The Art of the Trombone (Alain Trudel/ Patrick Webb) (Naxos: 8.553716)
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The Art of the Trombone Works for Trombone and Organ
The trombone stop on the pipe organ canproduce one of its most powerful, strident and intimidating sounds, Like allthe stops that take their name from orchestral instruments, and there are many,it caricatures only a single tone-colour of that instrument, in this case: low,reedy, penetrating, inexpressive and inevitably loud, If this recording were tobe based on such a conception of the trombone it would be hard listeningindeed.
By contrast, the trombone proper, in thehands of the right player, can be mellifluous, eloquent and expressive. Thechoice of music on this recording is designed to illustrate all theseattributes, along with the instrument's flexibility and agility, qualities notalways apparent when heard in its usual context of symphony orchestra oropera-house.
The trombone, like the organ, has alwayshad an ecclesiastical association, from the fourteenth-century Messe deNotre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut, through Gabrieli, Mozart and Beethovento the Grande Messe des Morts of Berlioz. These composers certainlywould have combined the two instruments as part of a large ensemble, but notuntil the nineteenth century was it presented alongside the organ in soloconcert works. Surprisingly few of these were of specifically sacred natureeven though they would clearly receive most of their performances in church.
Only two of the eight works included here, those of Liszt and Krol, havespecifically religious titles.
Gustav Hoist started his musical career asa trombone player and wrote wonderfully idiomatic music for the instrument,both in his orchestral works and the Duet for trombone and organ. A veryearly work, it was first performed in 1895, with a local amateur player ratherthan Holst himself as soloist, but with his father, Adolf von Holst at theorgan, The lack of any music that we would now recognise as Holstian revealsjust how much his individual musical voice was to develop in the succeedingyears.
Ernst Schiffman was a prolific andworkmanlike composer for all instruments, especially the winds. His Intermezzofor trombone and organ responds to the challenge of differentiating thetone colours of the trombone and organ which, being so similar in theiracoustical properties, have a natural tendency to merge a little too well. Itcontrasts gentle, unpretentious lyrical passages with sections based on anevocative horn-call motif.
Otto Hoser's Romanze illustrates aninstrumental genre that survived during the nineteenth and well into thetwentieth centuries. In what the English would now call drawing-room music, asentimental melody is superimposed on a well-tried harmonic framework andpeppered with varying degrees of bravura ornamentation. It was embraced withenthusiasm by the brass and military band movements, where it was furtherdeveloped into much larger scale air-varies and fantasias. The cadenzais by Alain Trudel.
Alexandre Guillant was a noted organist inFrance and his Morceau Symphonique was one of very few works written fora medium other than that of organ solo or choir. It has become one of theabsolute standard works for the trombone, taken up by amateurs, students andprofessionals alike to the accompaniment of organ, piano, wind band, brass bandor orchestra. While managing to reveal in its eight minutes many facets of thetrombone's musical character it does this with a succinct, tightly organizedand satisfying musical logic. Again, the cadenza is by Alain Trudel.
The Hosannah by Franz Liszt isreally a chorale prelude based on the melody Heilig ist Gott der Vater. Onthis recording the complete chorale is played separately as an introduction.
Liszt dedicated this Sonntags-Posaunenst??ck (Sunday Trombone Piece) toEduuard Grosse, a trombonist and double bass player at Weimar .It seems wellsuited to this gentleman's normal area of activity, lying, as it mostly does,in the low register and frequently reinforcing the pedal line of the organ.
Alain Trudel here plays it on the bass-trombone. The title Sinfonia Sacra hashad a long association with brass instruments, being given to the greatcollection of instrumental canzonas by Giovanni Gabrieli in 1597.
Bernard Krol spent most of his career as aprofessional horn player in Germany, only retiring to full time composition in1979. With all these years spent in the company of brass players it is only tobe expected that his compositions demonstrate an instinctive flair forexpressive sonorities and idiomatic instrumental writing. His Sinfonia Sacraof 1973 is subtitled Jesu Meine Freude.
Nineteenth-century Europe boasted severaltrombone virtuosos, one of the most celebrated being Friedrich Belcke. His
Fantasia for trombone and organ was obviously written as a vehicle for hisown virtuosity. Anchored firmly in the trombone's home key of B flat, itfollows the pattern of Hoser's Romanze in its decoration of the melodywith turns, leaps and arpeggios. It is more than probable that this style ofmusic was the starting-point for the work of John Philip Sousa's famoustrombone soloist Arthur Prior, who extended the degree of virtuosity to evenhigher levels later in the same century.
Harald Genzmer has been an active figurein German music in many genres, and is notable, like his teacher Hindemith, forhis music dedicated to the use of students and amateurs. The three movement Sonatafor trombone and organ is a craftsman like construction that exploits thevaried and sometimes unusual techniques of the trombonist against the backdropof an imaginative range of registrations and textures on the organ.
Alain Trudel is one of the world'sforemost trombone soloists, His many prizes include First Prize of the SoloistCompetition of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal and of the CanadianInternational Stepping-Stone Competition, as well as the Mildred Dixon-HolmesArtist of the Year Award, the first time such awards had been made to a brass-player. As a soloist he has appeared throughout Europe, Canada and the UnitedStates, in Japan, Hong Kong and elsewhere, also making his mark as a conductor,with participation in the Hamamatsu Summer Academy, the International TromboneFestival and the Australian New Music Festival. A number of composers havewritten concertos for him, including Pascal Dusapin, Jacques Hetu, PeterLieberson, Malcolm Forsyth and Alexina Louie, and his own compositions havebeen performed at major festivals throughout the world. At the same time he isan International Yamaha Performing Artist and has developed his own signature-modelmouthpiece with Yamaha for world-wide distribution. Alain Trudel plays a Yamaha682-G tenor trombone with a Yamaha Alain Trudel Signature mouthpiece.
Patrick Wedd studied at the Universitiesof Toronto and of British Columbia and served as musical director of ChristChurch Cathedral in Vancouver until 1986, when he became artistic director ofthe Ensemble Vocal Tudor de Montreal, a position he held until 1991. He is noworganist at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. Known as a pianist,harpsichordist and organist, Patrick Wedd has collaborated with a number ofinstrumental ensembles. He is also a composer, with a number of sacred worksand instrumental compositions to his credit.