Artist/s: David Elton (trumpet) and Sydney String Virtuosi conducted by Umberto Clerici
Category: Classical, New Music
Label: Digital EP ABC Classic | ABC 0028948556939. Commissioned by the ABC
Reviewed by Kevin Bonnett
“With this composition David Batterham has successfully balanced striking melodic invention with the stark virtuosity of David Elton’s outstanding trumpet playing to extend the possibilities of the instrument within the concerto form.”
ABC Classic has just released the Andrew Batterham trumpet concerto written for and performed by the eminent Australian trumpet virtuoso, David Elton. Elton is currently Principal Trumpet of the Sydney and the London Symphony orchestras.
Batterham is a Melbourne-based composer, songwriter, arranger and performer. He has studied composition with Brenton Broadstock, Broadway arranger and musician Ian Finkel as well as John McCabe in London. In 2000 he was commissioned by Symphony Australia to write a work for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, The End of All Journeys. He has composed works for Australian and New Zealand brass band competitions and his music has been performed by such luminaries as James Morrison.
Andrew Batterham’s trumpet concerto is a lyrical and yet brilliant work that is at times declamatory as well as deeply reflective. It is in three movements.
In the first movement a lively opening immediately presents the trumpet voice with a range of short yet shapely phrases. Ornamentation and development of the material is almost immediate. Mid-movement the work appears to stop and yet builds relentlessly to a short accompanied cadenza and conclusion. The string accompaniment ensures that the trumpet voice predominates in the texture of the work at all dynamic levels.
The lyrical and reflective second movement has trumpet and upper strings trading short phrases, call and answer, changing roles to answer and call with ornamentations from the trumpet leading to an inevitable climax before a coda restatement of the simple yet effective original phrases. The 5/4 time signature helps to intensify the stretched sense of the short phrases. This movement particularly gives David Elton the opportunity to highlight the rich emotional depth of his trumpet sound.
Using compound time signatures (12/8, 9/8) the final movement whirls into life with expansive dance-like figures from the trumpet. Batterham unleashes the full range of David Elton’s exceptional technique with runs and flourishes. As in all of the other movements the composer still gives Elton opportunities to display the mellow side of his instrument. From such a relatively still moment the composer builds the concerto to its final rhythmic statement.
This final movement reflects so many of the qualities of the complete work – technical flourishes, reflective passages and the use of metre to provide variety and unpredictability to the melodic and harmonic material. The composer has successfully balanced striking melodies with virtuosity at the same time as extending the possibilities of the trumpet within the concerto form.
Batterham has written an outstanding work displaying the varied qualities of David Elton’s exceptional playing. This concerto should join the rather skinny canon of new trumpet works that are playable and accessible to contemporary audiences.
VIEW AND LISTEN
Slow movement from the concerto