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Psalm 'A Song of Ascents'


Twenty-one years separate Psalm (1992) and Shakespeare Scenes (2013) and, in retrospect, I think they may be considered to be ‘markers’ in my work, both being written for solo trumpet and small ensemble (mixed in the case of Psalm, strings in that of Shakespeare Scenes). Each work was commissioned, Psalm by the London Sinfonietta for John Wallace as part of the orchestra’s 25th anniversary concert series, Shakespeare Scenes by Simon Desbruslais for a concert with the Orchestra of the Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon.

The title Psalm refers obliquely to the collection of Hymns/Songs in the Hebrew Bible (150 in the Western Judaeo-Christian tradition); in Biblical times, these were frequently instrumentally accompanied and range from songs of despair to those of spiritual fulfilment and praise. The ancient natural trumpet (Shofar or ram’s horn) and silver/metal trumpets are referred to in various books of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and were allotted a variety of (liturgical) functions. The title is used for my piece to illustrate a spiritual journey through various states, the trumpet, as a Priest-like Master of Ceremonies, initiating the musical voyage accompanied by tubular bells, its role that of both announcement and warning (as in time of conflict). As the ensemble gradually joins, the character of the music evolves from lyrical and mourning, via a state of growing intensity and drama to a trumpet cadenza which heralds the final dance of praise. After the tutti climax, the music cadences twice, firstly into a slow, sustained postlude which itself resolves onto (rather than into) A major, whose Dominant note, E, began the work. At the close, both solo and ensemble trumpets play the Lydian fourth above A, the latter echoing the soloist; when the latter has ceased, the note is therefore heard continuing in the temporal domain and, in terms of harmony, the Lydian fourth over A divides the octave symmetrically, both parameters symbolically illustrate the circular (and therefore, eternal) nature of the journey.

from notes by Robert Saxton © 2014


Psalm - Contemporary British Trumpet Concertos
Studio Master: SIGCD403Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD403 track 8

Recording date
15 June 2012
Recording venue
Civil Hall, Straford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Raphaël Mouterde
Recording engineer
Mike Cox & Brett Cox
Hyperion usage
  1. Psalm - Contemporary British Trumpet Concertos (SIGCD403)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: November 2014
    Download only
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