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Classical Music Review

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New Music for Trumpet, Flugelhorn & Interactive Electroacoustics


Performed by: Stephen Ruppenthal

Composers: Allen Strange, Bruno Liberda, Elainie Lillios and Brian Belet
Label: Ravello Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 10 March 2017

Trumpeter Stephen Ruppenthal releases his debut album, Flamethrower, through Ravello Records. The album contains world premieres of five pieces for trumpet, flugelhorn, voice, and crotale, composed specifically for Ruppenthal by Allen Strange, Bruno Liberda, Elainie Lillios, and Brian Belet...

While I am not a huge fan of the trumpet as a musical instrument, I don't mind the odd bit of jazz-based trumpeting; trumpet centric brass band music; or trumpets in orchestral recordings... but I was unsure as to how I'd feel listening to an album solely performed by trumpet (in the main).

Almost from the first note my fears were allayed when I realised that what Stephen Ruppenthal had recorded was something a little different. Here he pushes the boundaries of the instrument to deliver music that will get your attention from start to finish. In places there's sounds that you'll have never heard before (something that makes this an interesting purchase for that fact alone) due to the way that Ruppenthal uses his instruments in unconventional ways - the electronic manipulation of the sound, in places, helps to add an other-worldly quality.

There's also a lighter side represented here. 'A Sphere of Air is Bound', while erie in places, is also rather comical. You'll find it hard not to emit a schoolboy smirk as the sound of escaping air and short blasts of notes makes it sound like a bodily function.

The other worldly side is brought to a peak with the incredible beauty of 'System of Shadows - I. Aurora Borealis'. The combination of organic and synthesized sounds come together to form a cohesive sonic landscape steeped with an edgy, introspective feeling throughout.

It's all a little subjective really. You're either going to love this album or hate it - personally I enjoyed it - but one thing is certain, you'll never look at the humble trumpet in the same way again after this.


Darren Rea

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