August 9, 2022

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Reanimations – Jess Langston Turner | U.S. Coast Guard Band

2 min read

Reanimations: (Fantasia on Stravinskian Themes for Two Solo Trumpets and Wind Ensemble)

Musicians First Class Joel Baroody and Tom Brown, trumpets

"Reanimations" is both an imagined epilogue to Stravinsky’s great ballet Petroushka and a trumpet players fever dream on the eve of a big audition. At the end of Petroushka, the title character (a marionette in a traveling show) is killed by another marionette character, the Moor. The conflict between Petroushka and the Moor is sparked by mutual jealous love for a third marionette, the Ballerina. Petroushka dies at the hand of the Moor, and Stravinsky’s ballet comes to a close as Petroushka’s spirit suddenly appears to the onlookers, uttering a tortured, ghostly cry before vanishing as quickly as it came. "Reanimations" imagines that Petroushka’s wrongful death constitutes "unfinished business", and he is thus permitted to return to the Shrovetide Fair (the setting of Petrouchka), to avenge his wrongful death and win the heart of the Ballerina instead of disappearing forever into the void. The musical theme of Reanimations is based upon the (in)famous ballerina solo which appears on virtually every orchestral trumpet audition and is practiced ad nauseam by trumpet players the world over.

Reanimations opens in a fog of semi-consciousness, with fragments of melodies from the ballet briefly emerging only to be subsumed again. Petroushka is suddenly reanimated with a jolt, staggering about erratically and twitching violently. After getting used his "undead" legs, Petroushka settles down and begins remembering the events that befell him and his past life. Upon the rememberance of his death by the hands of the Moor, Petroushka flies into a rage and tears into the Shrovetide Fair on his mission of vengeance – when he suddenly comes face to face with the object of his affection, the Ballerina. She halts his rampage in its tracks by revealing to Petroushka that she truly loved him-and not the Moor. It is through the Ballerina’s true love that Petroushka finds redemption, and his unfinished business concludes. At this point, Petroushka finds himself transported on a whirlwind journey to the mythological underworld where he encounters strange and fearsome beasts, daunting obstacles, and familiar figures who have gone before. Finally Petroushka arrives at the gates of Valhalla? Really?

At this point, the trumpet player jolts from the pre-audition nightmare – terrified and trembling – and rejoins conscious reality as the echoes of Brahms, Beethoven, Valhalla’s gatekeepers, and Petroushka’s final triumphant cry fade away.

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