Towson University's Center for the Arts was turned into a center for the trumpets on Monday. The university's department of music offered master classes and workshops during the day, drawing area middle and high school students and teachers, and two concerts were held in the evening.
Capping this mini-fest was a recital - more like half a recital, really - by Andrew Balio, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's remarkable principal trumpeter.
His well-focused tone and clean technique produced particularly expressive results in Paul Hindemith's 1939 Sonata for Trumpet and Piano. The score starts out with apparently amiable intentions, full of spicy tunes and jaunty rhythms. But the mood is illusory; there's a funeral march waiting in the last movement.
Balio's phrasing always was alert to shifts in attitude and dynamics. His attention to little details never obscured Hindemith's long musical arcs, with their inevitable wrapping-up on a comfortable, consonant chord. Clinton Adams was the able accompanist at the piano.
Two baroque pieces lightened the program, both with Adams switching to organ. Excepting a measure or two, the trumpeter's nimble articulation commanded respect, and his tonal brightness served the florid music nicely. Of special interest was a sonata by Pavel Josef Vejvanovsky, a 17th-century Moravian trumpeter and composer who doesn't get much attention in concert halls.
Arthur Honegger's 1947 Intrada, which looks back fondly and imaginatively to the baroque era, received a robust performance.
The intermission-less concert was filled out by Adams' playing solo piano music and the Towson University Trumpet Ensemble delivering a brisk curtain-raiser.
If, like me, you weren't able to catch the earlier program featuring faculty artists and guests, you can sample the playing of one of them. Luis Engelke, a Towson faculty member, demonstrates his considerable trumpet skills on A Brazilian Collection, a recording of vibrant works by mostly contemporary composers from Brazil (available from Amazon.com).