Mute choice for Shosti Piano Concerto

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by Alex Yates, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    I was curious what everyone uses for the second movement of the Shostakovich Piano/ (Trumpet) Concerto? Since it covers a wide range on the horn this excerpt usually poses a quandry. I have never been able to find one mute that sounds both good in the basement and upper registers, and keeps intonation problems to a minimum. Everytime I play it, I try something else and the sound is never quite to my satisfaction. Any opinions?
  2. robertwhite

    robertwhite Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    I think I've literally tried about 2 dozen different mutes for this, along with various felt ring/crown royal bag variations, and I keep coming back to the plastic Bach straight mute.

    As cheap as it is, it sounds the best to me for this one. Nice and clear down low, a teeny bit of zing, and a real warmth to the sound. That said, I did have to shave the corks down a lot before I found it satisfactory.

    Actually, now there's only one cork on it, period, and the mute works better than ever! :lol:

    Interestingly, when I was doing a lot of recording in Indianapolis, we almost always used the plastic Bachs for anything muted - loud or soft. The sound really printed well on tape!
  3. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    Yeah, Robert! Same here! I always go back to the Bach black plastic mute. Do you have a secret to keeping those &*^% corks ON the mute? I have tried every kind of epoxy, glue, etc. with nix. They come smearing and sliding off every time. Grrrrrrrrrr.

    BTW, I also like to use this mute for Fetes with cotton balls inserted.
  4. Mikey

    Mikey Forte User

    Oct 24, 2003
    On Phil Smith's Excerpts CD, he uses a plastic Bach straight mute, but recommends putting a few cotton balls inside.
    I tried that and it works!

    (Only I don't remember how many balls I shoved in).......
  5. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    the spco did it last season, it looked like Gary Bordner used a Montreal mute. I have also heard it done in a cup mute. but lean more towards the former, bach black plastic works well too
  6. Mzony

    Mzony Pianissimo User

    Nov 14, 2004
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Much to the added pain of my section, the bach placstic mute is my favorite mute in the entire universe. I keep the corks on by A) getting different/thicker corks, and by B) putting it on the mute with contact cement.

    BTW: I also love this mute for the second movement of the Bartok Concerto.

  7. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    and how on earth did Phil find out about my trick!? ;-) (I did actually do this LONG before he put out his excerpt recording)

    Mzony - Bartok....hmmmmmm....I never thought to try that mute in that place on that piece. (It's also one of my favorite pieces. I have seven or eight recordings of it.) Thanks for the info. :-)

    It is kind of funny, but I never expected everyone to come up with this particular mute for the Shosti either. Heh.....I thought I was a closet-case. LOL.
  8. MrClean

    MrClean Piano User

    Oct 22, 2005
    Dennis Wick cup mute, fairly tight. Beautiful rich sound, almost like an English horn.

  9. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

    Jul 13, 2005

    I'm sure the Wick cup sounds fine.

    Just to stimulate discussion, I taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory for 2 weeks back in the 90s and Margolin (Professor, solo trumpet in Mravinsky's Leningrad/gave the premiere performance) was adamant about using a straight mute. Shostokovich couldn't have heard a cup mute, unlike his contemporaries in Paris. That said, the many variants on straight mutes these days make the point (almost) moot.

  10. MrClean

    MrClean Piano User

    Oct 22, 2005
    Yes, but we are also playing EVERYTHING on equipment that was not around at the time the majority of our repertoire was written (piston trumpets, trumpets in any conceivable key, etc). :-P

    Obviously, Shost did not specify cup mute - just a bit of artistic liberty. I heard a recording with the LSO (Murphy) that sounded like he used a cup, and from that point on, it is what I have used. So far, so good... :lol:

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