• Geoffrey Burgon
  • Trumpet Concerto: The Turning World (1993)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the BBC

  • percstr(min 8.6.4.4.2)
  • trumpet
  • 18 min

Programme Note

The Turning World refers to the pictures of earth transmitted by the first satellites. The image of the earth seemingly hung in space and very slowly revolving suggested the opening music of this work. It is not a bravura piece, except occasionally. It is the lyrical side of the trumpets nature that is explored rather than its heraldic qualities, although the echoes of distant fanfares can be heard in the opening section, attributable perhaps to the proximity of the composers home to some cavalry barracks and his waking on still mornings to the reveile calls of the Eb cavalry trumpets, deeper, and softer, than the more familiar Bb bugle. The trumpet sound, and style, of Miles Davis and Chet Baker are also a possible influence on the character of this piece.

The music is continuous, and is ronda in shape, or rather rondos, as each episode is itself in a ronda form. The ronda could also refer to the turning world. The opening ritornello, Lento e Calmo, is a long slow line for the trumpet over a string background featuring glissandi in the cellos and basses. The first episode, Allegro marked pesant, is in complete contrast. Very short motifs are flung about between the instruments, and the timpani are heard for the first time. The first episode of this ronda is announced by the trumpet’s muted sound. And later in this section trumpet and drums engage in a cadenza like duet. At the return of the opening Leno e Calmo, the trumpet’s line is given to the first violins, the trumpet joining intermittently with muted comments.

The second episode is a hushed canonic scherzando, initially for soloist and first violins only. The rest of the strings gradually join them, and the lines become longer breathed and legato. The solo trumpet brings the music to a pause, and then it all happens again except that the lines are shared out differently until a solo violin leads to the third appearance of the ritornello, which this time is heard in abbreviated form on trumpet and timpani only.

Next is a Lento Molto section. A single line of melody is spread hocket like across the strings, echoed by a vibraphone. This music, and the earlier scherzando relate to a ballet "The Calm”, written by Burgon for London Contemporary Dance Theatre in 1974. It was originally scored for violin, trumpet, harp and countertenor, and here the harp takes part of the vibraphone (which was originally known as the vibraharp). The trumpet takes up and repeats the theme, the first violins play a counter melody to it, and the music becomes gradually more fragmented, until it is eventually pulled together by the re-emergence of the glissando bass line from the very beginning of the piece. The trumpet finally hints at it’s opening music, and ends as it began, on a solo D.

Geoffrey Burgon 1993