Review: David Guerrier/Steven Beck

The following is reprinted, with permission, from the Tallahassee Democrat (25 February 2005). The portions in brackets did not appear in the original.

The Artist Series continued Sunday with a recital by trumpeter David Guerrier and pianist Steven Beck at Florida A&M University's Lee Hall.

The performance began with a stately reading of Arthur Honnegar's Intrada. Clarity of sound in all registers, ease of technique and a fine grasp of style marked Guerrier's playing in this piece - and throughout the concert. [I can’t say for certain if Intrada was originally written for trumpet or if it was an arrangement, because the "program notes" included no information about any of the music, only exhaustive listing of the credentials of the performers, as if the recital was an interview for a position. I’d rather be given an indication of why a composer wrote a certain piece, what to listen for in the piece, or why the performers were moved to perform it than to read a mind-numbing list of orchestras performed with, etc. ]

Paul Hindemith wrote sonatas for virtually every instrument and the sonatas for winds, in particular, are at the center of the repertoire. The piano is an equal partner in these works, and the Trumpet Sonata is no exception. Beck's performance of the difficult piano part was as effortless, clean and musical as was Guerrier's trumpet playing. Their phrasing and sense of ensemble - an essential element in a performance of this piece - were excellent.

This sense of musical partnership was taken a step further when Beck took the stage alone for a rhythmically charged performance of J.S. Bach's Italian Concerto (BWV 971). The individual contrapuntal lines were clearly articulated, as were the important structural points of the piece.

Guerrier returned for an exciting traversal of Kent Kennan's Sonata for Trumpet and Piano. The influence of Hindemith was clear and seemed, appropriately, to guide the performers' interpretation of the piece. The last movement expands the style with rhythms and melodic gestures that carry a distinctively American feeling, and the performers went where the music took them.

The second half of the concert began with performances by the winners of the Artist Series Trumpet Competition - Jessica Striano, Ashton Kimbrough and Danielle Aiken - accompanied by Beck.

Beck delivered fluid and idiomatic readings of the Berceuse (op. 57) and the first Scherzo (in B minor, op. 20) of Frederic Chopin. The Berceuse gave him his only real opportunity of the afternoon to show his lyrical side, and he responded with musicality. The virtuoso demands of the Scherzo were well in his reach, as well.

The dry, sardonic wit and rhythmic edge of the Gavotte de concert of Heinrich Sutermeister provided the musical highlight of the afternoon. Gurrier and Beck played the piece with a coolness that was wholly appropriate and expressive.

The recital closed with a strong performance of the Concerto in B-flat, by Alexander Arutiunian. It was a work of conventional virtuosity, with occasional lyrical pretensions.

[An unnamed encore was similar in style, and similarly well played.]


  1. FYI, the Intrada was originally written for trumpet and piano. (I see your point, though.)

  2. Right. I had gathered that early in the performance. But it would have been nice to have that and some other info about the piece.

  3. Anonymous9:31 AM

    It's HonnegEr, by the way.

  4. Indeed it is. Thanks.

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