Unisons in classical and early romantic literature

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by MalinTrumpet, May 17, 2005.

  1. MalinTrumpet

    MalinTrumpet Pianissimo User

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    Nov 7, 2004
    New York City
    Hi Manny:

    Here's a question I've always wanted to ask but forgot to when the moment arrived:

    When playing Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven etc. when both trumpet parts are written as unisons, when is it proper to have the second player play an octave below? I just played on Eroica last Sunday and as usual played most of my part down an octave. Some of the part sounded better in unison. Do you have any hard and fast rules about this? Have any conductors asked you and your 2nd trumpet to play in unison (as the part is written)? What do you think the composers had in mind when they wrote the parts as they did?


    Larry Malin
     
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Sep 29, 2004
    USA
    Malin,

    This is a great question because it's one that I have gone around about and have finally settled into an opinion.

    I believe that had composers had available an instrument with the capabilities of the modern instrument they would have written for them. Brahms is a bit on exception as he had a valved instrument available but still wrote in the olden style.

    HOWEVER, composers would have written differently and the Beethoven we know would have had a completely different sound along with every other classical composer. THEREFORE, I prefer hearing the octaves as written because that's what gives Beethoven his power in some of his brass writing: those unisons, strident and sure. He did his best to compensate by using the other brasses but Beethoven's sound is unique and playing the music where it is written delivers that unique quality. This is all easy to say because I'm not the second player, Bob is.

    Coincidentally, Larry, I'm playing the Eroica this week as well. Osmo's back in town. We're getting it ready for the recording in a couple of weeks. It's going to be rather sensational judging from today's rehearsals.

    I wanted to tell you that the next time we're in Carnegie, we're likely going to play a week with all 9 symphonies! We'll probably do it over 4 or 5 nights. Maybe '06 or early '07.

    ML
     
  3. MalinTrumpet

    MalinTrumpet Pianissimo User

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    Nov 7, 2004
    New York City
    ML

    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. It is a fascinating topic and I really appreciate your input. I guess each piece has to be looked at individually. Brahms is always interesting to me. He know so much about the trumpet, even composed etudes for it, but his parts are so bare (and so difficult, for me anyway). Vacchiano said he found the Haydn Variations very difficult.

    Some conductors have asked me to add notes because of the capability of modern instruments. The last movement of the Mendelsohn Reformation Symphony comes to mind.

    I will try to get to Carnegie to hear the Beethoven. The last time I heard you play there it was Shostakovich Symphony #5 and you sounded great.

    LM
     

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