Bradshaw Trumpet Sonata

Title

Sonata for Trumpet and Piano (2003)

Robert Bradshaw (1970 – )

Biographical Info

Focused on producing socially relevant art, Robert J. Bradshaw’s music is inspired by historical events and influenced by his multi-cultural family.  His formative years were spent surrounded by generations of artists including works by his great-grandfather, George A. Bradshaw, whose etchings are part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection.  Bradshaw’s artistic aesthetic has been shaped by his paternal grandfather’s art, a watercolorist and art historian, and maternal grandfather’s teaching, a jazz guitarist from New York City.  The result is a sophisticated fusion of musical styles, celebrated as “wholly and unmistakably American”.  His compositions have been heard in Lincoln Center and at the Kennedy Center’s International VSA Festival. Commissions include works for the James Pappoutsakis Flute Competition, the New England String Ensemble Musical Heritage Initiative and the American String Teachers Association with NSOA.  Of particular note is the Australian Trumpet Guild’s commission of the opera “.Gabriel” which was premiered at the 35th Annual Conference of the International Trumpet Guild, courtesy of Opera Australia and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra.

The Icon painting used in this post was painted by Robert’s grandfather, Robert G. Bradshaw.

Suggested Equipment

The edition of the sonata I have shipped with both C trumpet and Eb trumpet parts. (and piano score)

I chose to play the performance on this recording on my Eb trumpet. I just got the instrument and was looking for a work to show it off, other than the Haydn, Hummel or Neruda.

Cup, Straight and Harmon mutes.

Practice/Performance Tips

This work is also scored for Trumpet, Percussion, Piano and Strings.

Bradshaw’s “Sonata” is a nicely constructed piece, not overwrought in trying to be too complex or formal, yet making tightly woven use of its rather sparse cell materials in a very melodic way. – Audiophile Audition Magazine

Bradshaw’s “Sonata” is a nicely constructed piece, not overwrought in trying to be too complex or formal, yet making tightly woven use of its rather sparse cell materials in a very melodic way. – Audiophile Audition Magazine

This work is easily one of my all-time favorite sonatas.  I feel like it uses the trumpet in a number of different ways, lyrical, fanfare, technical – but also pointillistic, and textural.  I love the vocabulary Robert uses in his harmonic language, too.  Overall, the piece is scored in the upper range of the trumpet, which lends to the lightness that this piece calls for.  Personally, I do not find this piece as a heavy, bombastic sound piece like say, the Hindemith.  I would approach it more French, perhaps like Francaix or Ibert.  This is another reason I favor the Eb on this piece rather than C or Bb.

The excerpts below are taken from a recital I gave at UW=Platteville, Fall 2012.  I was playing an Eclipse C, Eclipse Flugel and Blackburn Eb.

Movement 1

The piece opens with trumpet in Harmon mute. In my opinion, Harmon in acoustic, un-amplified settings is tricky because in order for balance to be right the trumpet needs to play so loud that the Harmon mute changes color. Perhaps this is the intention, but personally, I prefer the sound of the Harmon being played in a dynamic below mezzo-forte.

After this brief lyric opening, the movement explodes in to tons of odd meter, rhythmic complexity. This is a little tricky to coordinate with piano and requires a light touch.

Movement 2

I love this movement! I have never played anything quite like it. It’s not your typical trumpet music. It reminds me of a ballerina on point shoes dancing on egg shells. Bradshaw has written a number of works for ballet and modern dance. Perhaps there was some influence of that in this Minimalist, pointalistic, sparse movement.

Movement 3

The third movement is very lyrical and in complete contrast to the second movement.

Trumpet is in Cup and Harmon mutes for the majority, and open horn for at last statement.

Movement 4

The final movement is Tour de force with lots of double tonguing.

Straight mute called for in brief passages.

 

Suggested Recordings

James Ackley

Eric Berlin