Made famous by Russian soloist Timofei Dokschitzer, the Concerto by the Armenian Alexander Arutunian has undoubtedly solidified its place in the trumpet repertoire since its mid-twentieth century composition. The work gives ample opportunity to be both romantic and flashy, all in the spirit of eastern folk influence. In introducing this work to a student for the first time, I think it’s almost paramount that the student listen to Dokschitzer’s recording before practice begins; normally, I believe one should undergo basic initial practice before turning to recordings for interpretation, but the style here, more than many other works, truly cannot be grasped through the notes on the page alone. Here is Dokschitzer’s famous recording:
The opening Andante should not be played strictly, but particular favor in both tempo and dynamic should be placed on the chromatic half steps and the first sixteenth in measures three and five. Later in the piece, the meno mosso sections should have similar freedom, but the style is certainly more flowing and song-like (unlike the declamatory opening). KNOW where the phrase is. From an educational standpoint, this is perhaps the most valuable aspect of this piece: making personal and convincing decisions about creating beautiful phrases.
Allegro energico (first appearing at rehearsal A) occurs three times which in part forms the larger form of sonata-rondo for the entire concerto. Students should recognize this relationship and allow the form to influence the overall presentation in performance. Musically, these sections contain great contrasts; accents, quick dynamic shifts, and syncopation combine for an exciting theme on which the piece will revolve. As trumpet players, there seems to be an inherent tendency to play this melody very angularly (partly because it is). However, I would advise to remember it is still a melody, so sing THROUGH the phrase and don’t allow the intervallic content to sound so segmented. A trumpet note for the fast sections: perhaps practice slowly and all slurred. This will reveal whether we’re really following through with the air. The tongue must be a mere brushstroke over the beautiful sound you’re making.