The new CD, Universal Language by trumpeter Brian Chin, makes a welcome addition to the classical trumpet repertory. Mr, Chin, a symphony professional in the Seattle area is clearly a gifted musician with a nice rounded tone, excellent technique and a commitment to new literature. In fact, the program here is the real surprise and a prime reason to check this out! "Poesia" by Robert Kechley is very pretty, rather impressionistic but with some jazz influence. Jason Berg's "Universal Language" (from which the disc is titled..) is a interesting combination for trumpet, soprano and piano, and is based on poetry by the Japanese writer, Daisaku Ikeda. The trumpet writing in particular is very attention-getting, owing a little to Hindemith. Soprano Lisa Cardwell Ponten handles the texts well (and a pretty large tessitura) with clear diction and a feel for the emotions. The "Flowers" is particularly noteworthy, especially the muted trumpet end and some ostinato in the piano.
Edward Castro's "Fractured Trance" is a very interesting piece as well, potentially the album's highlight ? sort of a blues mode and very attractive. "Tracks" by Berg is also a very good vehicle for Chin and his pianist, Kevin Johnson, to show off a bit with its own jazz feel. All in all, this piece makes a stronger impression than "Universal Language."
The real gift in this set, however, is the "Sonata for trumpet and piano" by Daniel Bukvich, certainly a welcome addition to the sonata rep for trumpeters. Written in one long movement, it requires ample technique and is written in a very declamatory style with a warm, folksy middle section that is reminiscent of Copland's "Quiet City" All the performances here is top notch, especially Mr. Chin and the studio recording is of good quality (although there are some balance issues in the "Universal Language" between soprano and trumpet in places). This is an interesting, well-played program and a disc worth having for trumpet players or contemporary music enthusiasts looking for something a bit different!