Swineshead a recording a Monette trumpet with chamber orchestra
by, 08-09-2010 at 06:00 AM (1357 Views)
According to the homepage for the David G. Monette Corporation, "Without Charles Schlueter, Monette trumpets could not possibly exist as they do today."
Last week, I had the pleasure of recording Charles Schlueter with the Berkshire Symphony (Ronald Feldman, music director). This recording, which will be released by Helicon Records, has two pieces written for Charles: Ruth Lomon's "Odyssey" and Albert Tiberio's "Statements". Both of these are substantial multi-movement works featuring various wind and percussion instruments. Also recorded were Richard Peaslee's "Nightsongs", Vincent Persichetti's "The Hollow Men", Alan Hovhannes' "Prayer of St. Gregory" and Aaron Copland's "Quiet City.
The first challenge was how to get a trumpet sound which was present yet which would blend into the orchestral sound. Charles has 45 years' experience playing principal trumpet with major American symphony orchestras: Cleveland, Minnesota and Boston. Therefore he's spent his whole career perfecting a sound which projects from upstage and over the orchestra. For trumpet fans, just listen to all the clips of the solo trumpet fanfare which starts Mahler's 5th symphony. For him, a spot mic would be out of the question!
I tested the main mic array out with trumpeter James Tinsley (also executive producer of this project, and who subbed in the Boston Symphony for many years, sitting next to Charles). Also participating was William Sperandei, a former student of Charles, and who served as production assistant. They both had two horns each, which gave me an opportunity to hear different timbres and how they reacted in the empty room. At this point, the orchestra chairs, stands, lights and podium had already been set up.
I was advised that Charles' trumpet "would sound different"; that was an understatement! The Monette trumpets are in a class by themselves, and illustrate perfectly that there is no such thing as "a trumpet sound". Imagine caramel covered in dark chocolate - and compare that to the cinnamon red-hots of a bugle - complete polar opposites. I asked Charles to show up 90 minutes early to the first rehearsal so I could balance him, and was impressed by the creamy quality of his sound, as well as the wide projection without a laser-beam in the centre! We were lucky to be in an acoustic which gave the trumpet a nice halo without slap-back or flutter.
Since the rear of the space had some physical obstructions, the winds, brass and percussion were in narrow rows going back pretty deep. In order to give the stereo image some width, I had the strings spread out and used outriggers for emphasis. In addition, I placed the harp near the left outrigger (and for the Copland, the English horn near the right outrigger). Spot mics were used for those instruments, as well as the winds and percussion.
I instructed Charles to point to the centre mic in the main array; he was always present but not overpowering, even on his highest notes. He varied his playing from poker-faced seriousness to a sensuous laid-back quality and from full to soft levels. I encouraged the orchestra also to give plenty of contrast with their dynamics and articulation. All in all, a good set of sessions, which I look forward to putting together.
See David G. Monette Corporation for more information