The trumpet has sounded! Let the Festival begin! With a Pre-Festival recital on Monday, July 8, 2019 at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, the 2019 Carmel Bach Festival is underway. Andrew Arthur and Robert Farley presented an excellent collection of music for trumpet and organ. The focus was on music written during the Restoration Period of English history. Initiated by Henry V and continued until Queen Victoria, the post of King’s Trumpeter inspired great music. This reviewer has often played pieces from this era for wedding music.
The pews at St. Dunstan’s were comfortably full. The Dobson organ is a striking instrument well designed for the building and well suited to the compositions. Andrew Arthur shared his mastery of both the instrument and literature of the Early English music. Robert Farley played a beautiful reproduction of a J. L Ehe II Baroque Trumpet. In his hands, the instrument brought the music to life. I appreciated reading the thorough program notes. One can learn much by listening to recordings and reading, but to actually experience the music performed is to truly understand.
The seven compositions offered for this concert came from the late 17thand early 18thcentury. We heard Suitesand Voluntaries, aSonata and a Fugue for keyboard. Without trumpet valves or organ pedals, the composer must explore harmonies and give us melodies that sing. This is not music that only dances along. This music flourishes. I was transported back centuries listening to the clear, concise well-played counterpoint. Starting with Daniel and Henry Purcell, we were reminded of how less can be more. Continuing on with pieces by John Weldon, G.F. Handel, and John Stanley, we heard the dialogue and the sonority that so typifies this era. For the final offering, the Trumpet Suite in D Major by Jeremiah Clarke was played. Perhaps there were a few in the audience that relived a special day of vows and celebrations.
It was a lovely treat to hear regal music to open the 2019 Festival. The evening’s impeccable musicianship and wonderful instruments whetted our appetite for the eight main concerts and numerous chamber concerts. Along with the Tower Music and lectures, this Festival promises to stimulate, entertain and inspire. I look forward to listening in on Master Classes, viewing the Art of Music Raffle pieces, and learning much about the instruments and compositions offered during the next few weeks.