Baroque Masterpieces for Trumpet and Organ - Dominic Derasse, Musician, Outdoorsman, and entrepreneur extraordinaire!

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“Baroque Masterpieces” CD
The story behind the recording

By Dominic Derasse

While in Vermont performing with the Craftsbury Chamber Players (www.craftsburychamberplayers.org)  during the summer of 2003, Joan Barton (who let my family and I stay in  her wonderful “schoolhouse”) asked me if there was a recording of me  performing as a soloist that she could buy.  The answer was no but it  got me thinking that maybe I should have one available for my  appearances as a soloist in various places.  Joan’s question got the  ball rolling…

In the following months I starting exploring the various  possibilities that I might have and which one would be the best format  and repertoire.  There were many choices from which I could choose but I  remembered liking Maurice Andre’s recordings of baroque music for  trumpet and organ and decided that this might be the best formula to go  with, at least for the first recording. Because the organ can offer a  variety of sounds and because baroque music has withstood the test of  time, this became the preferred option.

The process then began of finding a church with the right acoustics  and, of course, the right organ.  This search started in New York where  Saint Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University and Riverside Church were  considered.  Then the Cathedral at Newark was to be the correct  location.  At that time I contacted several recording engineers in NY as  well as my brother Simon in France.

Simon and DominicMy brother informed me that he would like to record “live”, in the  right environment, a “surround sound” 5:1 project.  By the time we  figured the logistical problems of him bringing his equipment to the  U.S., we started looking into the possibility of recording in France.

With the help of Patrick Dupard and his father, I got in touch with  Yves Masson who has an amazing website devoted to organs in France: orgue.free.fr
He put me in touch with the Eglise St. Sulpice (famous now for its  reference in the Da-Vinci code) and also the Eglise St. Roch in Paris.  Both churches had “romantic” organs that are fabulous but the size of  these churches was deemed somewhat too large with an excessive reverb.  A  friend who owns a “record” label told me that if I recorded the CD in  Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral that he would want to distribute it.  I  contacted Olivier Latry, organist at Notre-Dame, but there were too many  hurdles to clear to get approval to record at Notre-Dame in Paris.   Right around the same time, in the fall of 2004, I was talking to my  friend and trumpet colleague Bruno Nouvion about some upcoming  master-classes that I would be teaching at the Paris conservatory and a  concert in November of that year.

Collegiale Notre Dame de VernonI mentioned that I was looking for a good church with a good organ to  record.  He told me that he was about to do a concert for two trumpets  and organ in Vernon with fellow trumpeter Dominique Collemare and  organist Alain Brunet.  It so happened that I knew Vernon fairly well  since I had been the trumpet teacher at the conservatory in that town  for 2 years just prior to moving to the United States.  It also happens  that my brother lives about fifteen minutes drive from Vernon.  He went  to a rehearsal Bruno, Dominique &Alain were having and recorded a  little as a test and sent me that sample recording. The test was very  conclusive and the decision was then made to go ahead and record at the  Collegiale Notre-Dame de Vernon.

Ken Bowen and DominicAfter my return from Paris in November, I contacted my friend Ken  Bowen with whom I had performed before.  I had only played with Ken as a  pianist but I knew he played organ too and if his organ playing was  anything like his piano playing I knew that I’d be in for a treat.  We  got together at the Steinway Reformed church in Queens and read through  some repertoire that I had in mind for this recording.  This was also a  very conclusive experience.  We proceeded to check our busy schedules  and settled for the week of May 8th to record in Vernon.  It turns out  that the Collegiale was available that week and that Father Philippe and  Alain Brunet were very receptive to our recording there.  They even  organized, with the help of the “Association des Amis de l’Orgue De La  Collegiale de Vernon”, to have us perform a concert of the CD’s  repertoire that same week.  Ken and I scheduled 5 rehearsals during the  month of March and off we were.

I arrived in Paris late afternoon on May 7th and Ken arrived at 10am on the 8th.
After I picked Ken up at Charles De Gaulle airport, we drove 90 minutes  to Vernon, had lunch and met with Alain Brunet at 2pm so that Ken could  get “acquainted” with the organ.  By 4pm we headed for Simon’s house and  took a nap.  We were scheduled to start recording that evening at  10:30pm.  The reason for the late start on that night was a choir  rehearsal from 8:30 – 10:30pm.  We quietly started setting up the  recording equipment at 10pm.  The recording involved seven microphones.   Four of them were downstairs 8 feet from floor level, two facing  forward and two facing the rear of the church.  The next three  microphones were “up”.  The close-up trumpet microphone was hooked to  the music stand.  The two “close up” organ microphones were installed  “way up” in the apse of the collegiale.

Climbing up to place the micsI accessed that location by going up the bell tower, accessing the  roof of the church going into the aspe through a small wooden trap door  off the roof and hanging one microphone there.  To get to the other  side, I had to climb above the organ and across the rose window to the  other tower, the roof and another trap door.

We got started at 10:45 that evening and recorded the J.F. Fasch  concerto in D Major and the four J.S. Bach selections before calling it a  night at 12:30.

At this point, I need to mention the reason for the choice of  J.S.Bach works on this CD.  First of all, I consider J.S.Bach to be the  Grand Master of  baroque music and could not imagine doing a CD of  baroque music without having any Bach.  The main problem was that he had  not written music specifically for solo trumpet.  There are a lot of  great trumpet parts in many of his works but none that are specific  concerti or sonatas Transcriptions had to be the way to go.  The  selection started with the two chorales: “Sheep May Safely Graze” for  solo voice because it is just plain beautiful and “Jesu, Joy Of Man’s  Desiring” for choir also because it is such a great piece of music.   Having the trumpet play the soprano line of the choir was the obvious  choice that had been done many times.  I wanted to add something a  little more “original” for my CD and asked David Horowitz if he would  like to write a variation.  David accepted the “challenge” and composed a  variation that not only respects the style of J.S.Bach but, in my  opinion, adds even more “Joy” to “Jesu, JOY Of Man’s Desiring”. This  accomplishment was not surprising to me since David writes music for so  many commercials and does it with so much talent.  More on David can be  found at www.dhma.net

The choice for Sinfonia 8 and Invention 13 was made because I was  looking for 2 short and fast tempo pieces to start and end the Bach  “medley”.  I searched through a book of Sinfonias and Inventions for  solo keyboard, chose these two and transcribed a trumpet part from them.

Ken Simon and DominicOn Tuesday morning, May 9th, Simon, Ken and I spent time listening to  the takes we had from the previous night to make sure we had everything  we needed and also to get an idea of the sound we were getting in the  Collegiale.  Ken and I were very pleased with what we were hearing.  In  fact, so much so that we decided to re-record the Sinfonia 8 that night  with a different approach of “sound” for the trumpet based on the  acoustics.  Ken spent a few hours in the afternoon working on the  registers he would use for that evening’s program.  Between 8pm and  midnight we recorded the G.Tartini, L.D. Daquin, G. Martini and J.S.  Bach’s Sinfonia 8.

I must mention at this point that the cadenzas in the Tartini were  written for me by Tom Pierson in 1991.  I played and recorded with Tom’s  band in the mid- late 80’s.  He now lives in Japan and you can find out  more about Tom at: www.tompierson.net

Wednesday morning, May 10th, was spent listening to Tuesday night’s  takes.  The result of that session was that we decided to re-record  Martini’s Elevazione and most of the Daquin for different tempo  considerations.  Ken, again, spent most of the afternoon working on  registers for the rest of the program.  That evening, from 8pm until  midnight we recorded the B. Marcello, T Albinoni, Martini’s Elevazione  and some of the Daquin.

Guy Bardet, Alain Brunet, Simon, Ken and I then determined that we were done and started packing up all the equipment.

By 1:30am Ken and I started our drive to Paris.  I could not get to  sleep that night for several reasons and had to start teaching  masterclasses at 9:00am at the conservatoire of the Xeme arrondissement  in Paris.  The classes I taught that day took place from 9-12 noon and  1:30 – 4:30pm.  Ken spent the day visiting Paris.  It is worth  mentioning that this was Ken’s first time in France and that he  impressed everyone with his knowledge of the French language.

Friday, May 13th was again spent teaching for me.  Ken took an  afternoon train to Vernon to practice on the organ.  I drove to Vernon  after my afternoon masterclass and at 8:30p, Ken and I gave a concert at  the Collegiale.  We performed the Fasch, Daquin, J.S. Bach (4 pieces),  Albinoni.   Ken played J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, we  finished the program with the Tartini and played the Martini Toccata as  an encore.  We received an amazing response from the audience.  This  concert was organized by “L’association des Amis de l’Orgue de la  Collegiale Notre-Dame de Vernon”.  They did a wonderful job of  organizing it and promoting it because the church was packed. After the  concert they had a very nice reception for us at the “presbytere”.  Ken  drove back to Paris that night while I went to Simon’s house.  Simon  and I did the editing work during the day on Saturday, May 14th.  I  drove to Paris to meet Ken that evening at 6:30pm. We were invited to  the organ loft at Notre-Dame de Paris by Olivier Latry.  This was an  amazing experience for us and my parents who had joined us too.  It had  been 21 years since I had been up there.  I had forgotten how powerful  that instrument is and we all got to appreciate Mr. Latry’s talent.

After that Ken and I had a very fine dinner in the Latin Quarter.   This was followed by a drive through Paris by night in an attempt to  show Ken as much of Paris as possible in a short amount of time.  The  Eiffel Tower with all the “flashing” lights was a highlight.
I drove Ken back to Charles De Gaulle airport on Sunday morning, May  15th and then went back to my brother’s house to mix and master the CD.   This process was completed by Monday afternoon, May 16th and I flew  back to New York May 18th.
Work then began on getting liner notes written and the CD booklet  prepared.  Ken and I both thought that Richard Westenburg would be a  great choice for writing the notes.

Picture used for cover of CDMy friend Etienne Pierres, architect in Paris with the “Atelier  Christian De Portzamparc” offered to help with the artwork and layout of  the booklet.  He used the pictures that were taken during the recording  sessions by Guy Bardet as well as the front cover photo taken by Simon  Derasse at just the right time to capture the sunlight through the rose  window.
For more on the “Collegiale Notre-Dame de Vernon” you should most definitely visit this new website: www.vernon-visite.org/colleg/accueil.htm


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