I presume, for many of you, the combination of trombone and piano stirs some curiosity as to how it really sounds. Well, you will be surprised what excellent bedfellows they make, especially when the music is treated with gentleness and imagination as is the case on this disc. The programme is a mixture of both past and present, as well as original and arranged pieces.
The French composer Carlos Salzedo (1885-1961) opens the proceedings with his Piece Concertante, Op 27. Composed for the Paris Conservatory Competition, it is full of beautiful lyrical passages interwoven with a set of variations, and to this day it remains an important work in the French trombone literature.
Listen — Carlos Salzedo: Pièce Concertante
(track 1, 0:02-1:01) © 2018 Steven Menard :
This is followed by four Rachmaninov songs arranged by Steven Menard, who succeeds brilliantly in conveying the sad yet haunting aspect of this Russian giant.
The first known concerto for the alto trombone, and also the first major secular work to incorporate the instrument, was written in 1763 by Austrian composer Georg Wagenseil (1715-1777). The work is unusual in that it contains only two movements but, despite its brevity, it still remains a most jovial piece full of lovely melodies.
Listen — Georg Wagenseil: Allegro assai (Concerto for Trombone)
(track 7, 0:40-1:32) © 2018 Steven Menard :
Balkanika by Slovenian composer Daniela Candillari (born 1979) was written for the Third Coast Trombone Retreat, and was the first piece by the composer for a brass instrument. Despite its brevity, Balkanika possesses a beautiful structural arc reflecting both joy and sorrow as expressed by the Balkan peoples.
Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion is an arrangement of a piece the composer wrote for the film Enrico IV. Composed in the style of a 'milonga', it has become one of Piazzolla's most popular works, and has been adapted by a variety of solo instruments and ensembles, in this case brilliantly arranged by Anthony Wise.
Listen — Piazzolla, arranged Anthony Wise: Oblivion
(track 9, 3:15-4:06) © 2018 Steven Menard :
Brahms' output of vocal repertoire includes many duets for various combinations of voices, and although these three particular songs are set to texts by three different poets and are found in three separate opuses, they all share a common theme: love, passionately expressed in this transcription by Verne Reynolds.
Listen — Brahms, transcribed Verne Reynolds: So lass uns wandern
(track 12, 2:12-2:51) © 2018 Steven Menard :
Performances are wonderfully attractive, with a certain exquisite timbre and beautifully shaped nuances permeating each piece. Unusual stuff that falls easy on the ear nonetheless. Pristine sound quality and average annotations complete an issue worthy of serious investigation.