Our little corner of the World is a quiet one. We have many opportunities to savor live performances of wonderful music. While those concerts would probably not demand the attention of those hungry for elite spectacles, I enjoy an hour or two of carefully chosen music competently prepared for our listening pleasure. Those who gathered at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Carmel on Sunday, August 18, 2019 experienced a lovely afternoon of music. Cortez Montalbo, trumpet and Steve Denmark, organ shared with us their Joy of Modern & Traditional Music. Dr. Denmark did double duty by accompanying on the piano as well as the organ. Mr. Montalbo used a collection of three instruments, cornet and two trumpets (B-flat and C) to play a variety of compositions.
To start the program, we heard a lively transcription of an Aria from Cantata #1 BWV 232 by Johann Sebastian Bach. With the chairs removed from the dais, the acoustics become quite live in the room. The organ and trumpet balanced nicely. The next two pieces played were written by French composers Jules Pennequin and Georges Hue. These two compositions for trumpet or cornet and piano are filled with lovely melodies and gracious harmonies. Again, the instruments were heard clearly as the composition in dialogue style unfolded. To finish the first half of the concert, Montalbo played a lyrical transcription of the Agnus Dei from Mass in B minor by J.S. Bach accompanied by Denmark on the organ. I found myself musing during the Intermission if we were experiencing an afternoon of music similar to what the good folk of Leipzig would have heard.
As the attentive audience settled in for the second half, we heard Concert Etude by Alexander Gedicke. This Russian composer had little formal training and gave us music based on folk tunes as was the style of the times. To continue the theme of wonderful melodies, we heard Siete Canciones Populares by Manuel de Falla. The Spanish influences shown through with the rhythms and harmonies of the exotic. Montalbo chose to use a mute for 2 of the songs. I commend these pieces as transcribed for trumpet or for cello. They’re fun listening! To end the concert, we heard a piece by Augustin Savard from his Conservatory years. I was intrigued by the lilt and playful quality of writing.
To experience live music is never ordinary. This concert was visually stimulating watching all five instruments: Cornet, Trumpets, Organ and Piano. Compositions that are composed with care and performed with joy are a treat to listen to. What we heard that afternoon was pleasing and fun. I look forward to more lovely music from Cortez Montalbo. He will be finishing his Master program this year and will begin work on a Doctorate program soon after. Thank you, Steve Denmark, for seeking out and encouraging young musicians. As the concert seasons begin in earnest next month, I will be looking for performances with just such lively music filled with lovely melodies.