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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by SAcornetist, Oct 23, 2015.
....and a bit of proper symphonic trumpet (skip to 2:00)
Doesn't sound much like a cornet to me
About 5 years ago or so, I was asked to play in the Evanston Symphony on 2nd trumpet for Berlioz's Harold in Italy. The soloists was the Chicago Symphony's principal Charles Pikler. (You had to hear him to believe the sound!).
The usual principal trumpet Don Cagen was ill and could not perform, so they got a substitute named Charles Geyer.
Charlie used a Schilke cornet on the 1st cornet part, and of course, his sound was astonishing. Not trumpety in any way shape or form. The cornet was an A2C shepard's crook.
This may be blasphemy, but while I utterly admire the brilliant brass bands and their incredible playing, I just don't care for that kind of sound. I've been offered an opportunity to join one of the excellent brass bands here, but won't do it.
To me, orchestra is it.
The reason for writing cornet parts in symphonic works was basically that the trumpet players of the time would not take up the new fangled valved instruments, preferring natural trumpets. The composers, in their harmonic experimentation, often required high brass sounds on notes unavailable to the natural instrument. This is why there are so many works with instrumentation of 2 trumpets and 2 cornets.
This is true of one or two countries but not generally so.
Rowuk has mentioned Prokofiev's use of trumpets + cornet in Romeo and Juliet a couple of times recently. But this was simply typical of pretty well all Russian composers going a couple of generations back to Balakirev, Rimksy-K, Mussorgsky etc.
The standard Russian orchestral brass section, certainly up to the revolutionary period featured two rotary valve trumpets (Cerveny) for the fanfary stuff and two cornet a pistons for the more lyrical stuff.
Yes, we do have to consider the national heritage when looking at symphonic cornet parts. England of course has a big tradition as does 19th century France. Russia is a different beast, but in symphonic arrangement very much "french". The Germans, Austrian and Swiss composers pretty much ignored the cornet.
When we talk about band however, there is a lot of room for interpretation. In the UK tradition has been maintained. In the US, we have early keyed bugles that later moved to cornets, then to cornets with trumpet mouthpieces and finally trumpets. In France the cornet band tradition or conservatory training as such is dead except for specialist ensembles.
Lets face it, during Arbans time the high Bb pitched cornet made virtuosic playing very much comparable to the flute or violin. There is a bit of literature for deep F and Eb trumpets, but we must accept the fact that there was not much interest on the side of the composers for these deep toned instruments. I am sure that Strauss, Mahler, Bruckner were very aware of the developments and they for sure notated as such.
This is what Rimsky-Korsakov had to say in the late 19th century. Most of it is still pretty valid IMHO.
What an interesting read. It's remarkable that almost nothing has changed since then. Thanks for posting it!
In the case of Richard Strauss, we can be very sure he was extremely aware of the standard of trumpet and cornet playing in his time (or the lack of it). When he, during an early stage of his career, wanted to perform Bachs Brandenburg 2, he was unable to find a trumpet player able to do it, so he had a soprano oboe specially constructed. There is even a sound recording of this... pretty weird!
Hmm, I'm not sure I would describe the cornet as weaker.