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The stage was set in Meymandi Concert Hall for a program entitled "The Rising Sun." It was the name of a piece to be performed later in the program, composed by the honored guest of the evening, trumpet soloist Allen Vizzutti. He performed in three of the selections with the Triangle Brass Band, with Music Director Tony Granados.
The band warmed up (themselves and the audience) with the exciting overture to Verdi's opera, La Forza del Destino. This piece served to remind everyone how satisfying a skilled band can sound when undertaking a great symphonic work.
Impressively transporting three separate instruments in his arms, Vizzutti came on stage as soloist for his own composition, The Rising Sun, a work based upon his experiences in Japan. It is clearly programmatic, with the first "Mount Fuji" movement using the piccolo trumpet to exhibit the exotic "Eastern" sound one would tend to expect. He picked up the flugel horn for "Temples of Kyoto," the dreamy, altogether appealing movement that could have been marked Andante, had he chosen to do so. The B-flat trumpet did solo duty in "Shinkansen-Bullet Train," a lively movement that serves as a Presto. Featured here was a lengthy trumpet cadenza, a humorous interlude emulating a bullet train that was hard to bring to complete halt. The orchestration for all the movements was full-bodied and complementary, lacking any distracting idiosyncrasies.
It was manifest that here is a trumpeter who is the probable equal of any in the world today. A listing of his honors and accomplishments would be a long one indeed. Anecdotal evidence, gathered during the intermission, would suggest that every trumpeter and every aspiring trumpeter in the region had gathered in that hall to "sit at his feet." They certainly had no reason to be disappointed with the demonstration.
Composer Philip Sparke was the guest of Triangle Brass just over a year ago, in May 2009, conducting many of his own pieces. His work was prominent again this evening, leading with the Hymn of the Highlands Suite, three movements featuring sweet and "euphonious" euphoniums, soaring summits, muted horns, and violent percussion. His later "Time Remembered" brought back the mutes for a pensive treatment of "the aspects of life that are constantly with us."
Vizzutti returned for "Dramatic Essay" by Clifton Williams and for a real crowd pleaser, "La Virgen de Macarena," by Rafael Mendez. This latter familiar piece, also known as the "Bullfighter's Song," gave the soloist another chance to wow the hearers, an opportunity he fully exploited.
The band called on another familiar work to make for a powerful close, the Berceuse and the Finale from Stravinsky's Firebird. The gentle lullaby was succeeded by as spine-tingling a conclusion as you ever heard.