One of my ‘all time favourite’ trumpet players was Lawrence Evans. When I was a student Lawrie was enjoying his long tenure as Principal Trumpet of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a chair he was to grace for well over twenty years. Prior to that he was third trumpet to David Mason in the New Philharmonia and Principal Trumpet of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Lawrie, as he was known, was at his ‘peak’ for so many years. He could play anything, and in my opinion Laurie had the best sound in the world for Mahler and Strauss. For those who have a different opinion, look up the LPO playing the works of those great composers conducted by Klaus Tennstedt. There are a set of completely ‘live’ recordings (no edits!) of the Mahler Symphonies and a studio set. The principal Trumpet playing is amazing. Also, check out the Tennstedt live Don Juan. The only disk that hasn’t got Lawrie on is one of two live concerts of Mahler 5, when Lawrie was ill, and Stan Woods had to step into the first chair at the last minute – still amazing playing, by the way!
Lawrie used to be fond of a drink or two to before the show and confessed his magic recipe for his many great Mahler 5 performances to Denis Curlett, his second trumpet for many years. He reckoned he had finally got the mixture right and that magic recipe is pretty impressive… 8 large gin and tonics and 2… yes, not 1 but 2 T bone steaks… and a few pints of beer thrown down too, just for balance.. It seemed to work a treat but I’m not certain it would guarantee success for the rest of us. Lawrie also told Denis that he was ‘taking it easy, because he wanted to get the show just right.’
Denis told me that he would have to ‘pour’ Laurie on to the stage sometimes, but all he he to do was put the trumpet in Laurie’s hands and ‘By Christ! He was a cracking trumpeter!’ He had no issue with any high notes, quiet passages, the loud stuff, technical matters, or anything. He sound was so good, the air used to ‘crackle’ in the Royal Festival Hall when he played. Lawrie left the Royal College of Music, where he studied with the great Ernest Hall with one of the highest marks ever awarded. I don’t think anyone had got around to telling Laurie that the trumpet was supposed to be a hard instrument to play!
I remember being one of twenty trumpeters doing Otello at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Laurie was likewise employed. After saying hello his next question was, “… Where do you do your drinking round here?” A really nice guy too.