Arts Review

Terrific Trumpet: Dynamic Young Musicmakers

The QSO Presents Terrific Trumpet: Dynamic Young Musicmakers

16th -17th June 2023

Concert Hall, QPAC


Tomasi Trumpet Concerto

Sibelius Symphony No.2 in D


Conductor Tarmo Peltokoski

Section Principal Trumpet Rainer Saville


Dr Gemma Regan


Saville and Peltokoski shone as protostars amongst the glittering galaxy of the QSO


The Morning Masterworks audience was abuzz to hear the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s own Principal Trumpet, Rainer Saville performing Tomasi’s famously difficult Trumpet Concerto. Saville is a versatile and talented musician, having performed internationally as both a soloist and part of the orchestra using a range of styles, including contemporary, jazz and chamber music. 


Richard Madden, a fellow QSO trumpeter introduced the concert, stating that Tomasi’s Trumpet Concerto is an absolute masterwork for the trumpet, and terrific but terrifyingly technical! Brave Saville described it as one of the more athletic pieces in their repertoire and that he wanted to showcase the full expressive range of the trumpet, which rarely gets a starring role.


The buzz was also around the young Maestro Tarmo Peltokoski, who was conducting at the helm. A Finnish conductor who wowed the Bremen Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra and audience in Germany, resulting in him becoming their Principal Guest Conductor in 2022 at only 21 years old! He is the first conductor to hold the position in the orchestra’s 42-year history. Peltokoski has recently been named the Music and Artistic Director of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. 


Saville was commanding in his performance of the taxing concerto from 1948, with three radically different movements from the French prodigy. Tomasi enjoyed the brass and wind instruments which led him to compose a concerto that was criticised for being impossible to play, focussing on the trumpet, bassoon, saxophone and trombone.


A fanfare solo introduced the audience to the concerto, with Saville deftly swapping the mute in and out of his trumpet throughout the performance. It had a military style and Saville was deftly double-tonguing with a tu-ku, tu-ku sound in the solos. The virtuosity of the trumpet and Saville was illustrated throughout the three diverse movements. The following Nocturne was more ethereal and romantic, with the harp playing a leading role in dancing with the trumpet. 


The quirky Final was rather cartoonish and may have influenced the big band sound of Bernstein’s West Side Story with its Gerschwin and Copelandesque innuendoes and wild use of percussion. Saville was faultless throughout, rousing the audience to cheer and stamp for his brilliant sassy, jazzy performance.


Saville also considers Sibelius’ Symphony No.2 from 1902 to be the best, due to its connection to Finland‘s fight for independence from Russia. Peltokoski seemed to swell with pride during the piece. His conducting style became much rounder and fuller, making large circular movements with his legs spread askance. It brought to mind a vision of Van Gogh standing at an easel whilst painting his Starry Night.


Sibelius is most famous for his Finlandia tone poem, protesting the imposition of the Russian Empire. The Finnish defiance echoes throughout the second symphony with the unusual use of the 6/4 time signature in the opening Allegretto with string crescendoes and expressive quadruplets creating a rousing start.


It is a long second movement and Peltokoski flopped expressively for a brief pause afterwards, much to the surprise of the orchestra, before raging on through the other two movements of glissandos and trumpeting fanfares.


The creeping plucks of the double basses were interesting as they seemed to sneak in after their curfew. Whilst the industrious whirring violins in the third movement mimicked them collecting nectar from the flowers to return to a hive of honey. 


The epic brass chorale, a favourite of Saville, signalled a musical victory at the finish if not a Finnish one over the regime! The musicians were deft in their rendition as the young Saville and Peltokoski shone as protostars amongst the glittering galaxy of the QSO.

The concert was recorded for future play on ABC Classic FM.


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