For many years – 15, to be exact – Armando Ghitalla was principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, although his association with that orchestra began 13 years earlier, in 1951. Between his retirement from the Boston Symphony Orchestra (in 1979) and his death (in 2001), he devoted himself to teaching, and to advancing the trumpet and trumpet players in any way that he could, including by making the present recording, which dates from the late 1980s and originally was released, minus the Molter and the Parry Dance Pieces, on the Premier Recordings label under the title "Trumpet Concertos of Three Centuries."
Despite the definite flavor of pasta clinging to his first and last names, Ghitalla was born in Indiana in 1925, and was associated with American ensembles and music schools throughout his long career. Probably his most influential mentor was another long-lived trumpeter with an Italian name, William Vacchiano, who was teaching at Juilliard when Ghitalla enrolled there after World War Two.
This is a very good-humored CD. Ghitalla's performances remind us that he spent many of his Boston years playing for Arthur Fiedler in the Boston "Pops." There's a breeziness to most of this playing that is very attractive. Ponchielli is known almost exclusively for composing the opera La Gioconda – anything but a barrel of laughs! His single-movement concerto, though, originally written for trumpet and concert band, is surprisingly genial. It is not hard to imagine it coming from a band shell, not from the confines of a concert hall. The Molter concerto is a souvenir of Ghitalla's work in the Baroque repertoire. Even here, Ghitalla's playing is full of smiles. It must be said that his tone in the very high notes that stud the solo part is not the fullest or most secure. One must go elsewhere if one wants to hear complete justice done to this work. The Böhme Concerto is a Romantic delight, and here, Ghitalla once again is in his element, turning out golden yard after golden yard of singing tone.
Two of the works on this CD are written by its conductor, William Perry (b. 1930), who is a prominent composer of music for television, film, and musical theater. They both are in a "pops" style, and like Noël Coward, they have a talent to amuse. The Concerto was written for Ghitalla in 1985, and it seems tailored to his genial personality, as well as to his technique.
The accompaniments are more than serviceable, and the engineering doesn't show its age. For trumpet mavens who are looking for something less formal and rigid than the usual trumpet recital, this CD is easy to recommend.
Copyright © 2008 by Raymond Tuttle