A horn player once said to me: “The trumpet doesn’t have any secrets.” I was at first provoked, being myself a trumpeter, but the comment tells a lot about the French horn’s wonderful merits of magic in orchestral and chamber music. Not only do horn players send the sound away from the listener, they also muffle it with their hand, making it sound like emerging from a deep forest. In contrast, the role of the trumpeter has been confined to depicting festive parades and dramatic battles, and to blaring crude fanfares through its almost obscenely protruding bell. But maybe this is the secret of the trumpet: that it is open. Wide open. And perhaps that openness lends it a vulnerability.
In many ways, since we’re dealing with the love/hate instrument of my childhood and youth, this trumpet concerto was bound to be become almost autobiographical. It is about visiting some dark places. Low places. The place inhabited by the mythical wounded Fisher King, his country degenerating into a Wasteland, a place we all have been at least once in our life. But it is even more about the hope of transforming that Wasteland into brightness and abundant, flowing energy.