March 14th 2023 Theatre by the Lake Review by Steve Matthews of Bella Tromba

Four trumpeters – Jo Harris, Emma Bassett, Clara Hyder and Emily Ashby – and on stage ten, perhaps a dozen trumpets – in C, in B flat, bass trumpets and piccolo trumpets and even a flugel horn and mutes of all shapes and sizes. And with all this plumbing we were taken on a world tour.
We began in Venice, where else? with a Monteverdi fanfare from the balcony above St Marks followed by softer, antiphonal sounds as though the trumpets were played by angels during the Vespers.

Carlo Gesualdo and the melancholic interweaving lines of O Vos Omnes took us to Verona and then we hurried on to Chianti to enjoy Days of Bells and Flying Creatures by Peter Longworth. Commissioned by Bella Tromba, this colourful piece brought us seven episodes of the sounds that fill the warm Italian days – the church bells, the birds, the flies, the cicadas, the religious chanting and the intoning, the cooing doves and the rooster, played on the bass trumpet.

Our next stop was in the Oxfordshire village of Deddington. Imogen Holst wrote her Deddington Suite for three recorders, but the mixture of sprightly tunes and pastoral colours were well-suited to three trumpets.

Another fanfare – two very short quirky ones – and we were in the streets of Paris with Erik Satie and then we were with the twentieth century Corsican composer Henri Tomasi exploring the whole variety of sounds to be found in his Suite for Three Trumpets.

Next we were transported to the streets of Seville and the rhythms of the Habenara and the excitement and passion of the toreador in a colourful, but somewhat sporadic suite from Bizet’s Carmen.

Liepzig, or perhaps Vienna, was next in arrangements of three mellow waltzes by Clara Schumann before we found ourselves in Cornwall listening to the Sweet Nightingale in an old folksong.

Our tour ended in Harlem. Margaret Bonds’ Troubled Water was a piano piece based on an old spiritual. With this arrangement for four trumpets we found ourselves on the crowded noisy streets.

Our world tour was complete. We’d been transported from Venice to New York through a multifarious range of cultures and places thanks to the courtesy of four virtuosic trumpeters.