About this Recording

The Art of the Trombone Works for Trombone and Organ

The trombone stop on the pipe organ can produce one of its most powerful, strident and intimidating sounds, Like all the 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 to be based on such a conception of the trombone it would be hard listening indeed.

By contrast, the trombone proper, in the hands of the right player, can be mellifluous, eloquent and expressive. The choice of music on this recording is designed to illustrate all these attributes, along with the instrument's flexibility and agility, qualities not always apparent when heard in its usual context of symphony orchestra or opera-house.

The trombone, like the organ, has always had an ecclesiastical association, from the fourteenth-century Messe de Notre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut, through Gabrieli, Mozart and Beethoven to the Grande Messe des Morts of Berlioz. These composers certainly would have combined the two instruments as part of a large ensemble, but not until the nineteenth century was it presented alongside the organ in solo concert works. Surprisingly few of these were of specifically sacred nature even though they would clearly receive most of their performances in church. Only two of the eight works included here, those of Liszt and Krol, have specifically religious titles.

Gustav Hoist started his musical career as a trombone player and wrote wonderfully idiomatic music for the instrument, both in his orchestral works and the Duet for trombone and organ. A very early work, it was first performed in 1895, with a local amateur player rather than Holst himself as soloist, but with his father, Adolf von Holst at the organ, The lack of any music that we would now recognise as Holstian reveals just how much his individual musical voice was to develop in the succeeding years.

Ernst Schiffman was a prolific and workmanlike composer for all instruments, especially the winds. His Intermezzo for trombone and organ responds to the challenge of differentiating the tone colours of the trombone and organ which, being so similar in their acoustical properties, have a natural tendency to merge a little too well. It contrasts gentle, unpretentious lyrical passages with sections based on an evocative horn-call motif.

Otto Hoser's Romanze illustrates an instrumental genre that survived during the nineteenth and well into the twentieth centuries. In what the English would now call drawing-room music, a sentimental melody is superimposed on a well-tried harmonic framework and peppered with varying degrees of bravura ornamentation. It was embraced with enthusiasm by the brass and military band movements, where it was further developed into much larger scale air-varies and fantasias. The cadenza is by Alain Trudel.

Alexandre Guillant was a noted organist in France and his Morceau Symphonique was one of very few works written for a medium other than that of organ solo or choir. It has become one of the absolute standard works for the trombone, taken up by amateurs, students and professionals alike to the accompaniment of organ, piano, wind band, brass band or orchestra. While managing to reveal in its eight minutes many facets of the trombone's musical character it does this with a succinct, tightly organized and satisfying musical logic. Again, the cadenza is by Alain Trudel.

The Hosannah by Franz Liszt is really a chorale prelude based on the melody Heilig ist Gott der Vater. On this recording the complete chorale is played separately as an introduction. Liszt dedicated this Sonntags-Posaunenstück (Sunday Trombone Piece) to Eduuard Grosse, a trombonist and double bass player at Weimar .It seems well suited 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 has had a long association with brass instruments, being given to the great collection of instrumental canzonas by Giovanni Gabrieli in 1597.

Bernard Krol spent most of his career as a professional horn player in Germany, only retiring to full time composition in 1979. With all these years spent in the company of brass players it is only to be expected that his compositions demonstrate an instinctive flair for expressive sonorities and idiomatic instrumental writing. His Sinfonia Sacra of 1973 is subtitled Jesu Meine Freude.

Nineteenth-century Europe boasted several trombone virtuosos, one of the most celebrated being Friedrich Belcke. His Fantasia for trombone and organ was obviously written as a vehicle for his own virtuosity. Anchored firmly in the trombone's home key of B flat, it follows the pattern of Hoser's Romanze in its decoration of the melody with turns, leaps and arpeggios. It is more than probable that this style of music was the starting-point for the work of John Philip Sousa's famous trombone soloist Arthur Prior, who extended the degree of virtuosity to even higher levels later in the same century.

Harald Genzmer has been an active figure in German music in many genres, and is notable, like his teacher Hindemith, for his music dedicated to the use of students and amateurs. The three movement Sonata for trombone and organ is a craftsman like construction that exploits the varied and sometimes unusual techniques of the trombonist against the backdrop of an imaginative range of registrations and textures on the organ.

Christopher Mowat

Alain Trudel
Alain Trudel is one of the world's foremost trombone soloists, His many prizes include First Prize of the Soloist Competition of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal and of the Canadian International Stepping-Stone Competition, as well as the Mildred Dixon-Holmes Artist 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 United States, in Japan, Hong Kong and elsewhere, also making his mark as a conductor, with participation in the Hamamatsu Summer Academy, the International Trombone Festival and the Australian New Music Festival. A number of composers have written concertos for him, including Pascal Dusapin, Jacques Hetu, Peter Lieberson, Malcolm Forsyth and Alexina Louie, and his own compositions have been performed at major festivals throughout the world. At the same time he is an International Yamaha Performing Artist and has developed his own signature-model mouthpiece with Yamaha for world-wide distribution. Alain Trudel plays a Yamaha 682-G tenor trombone with a Yamaha Alain Trudel Signature mouthpiece.

Patrick Wedd
Patrick Wedd studied at the Universities of Toronto and of British Columbia and served as musical director of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver until 1986, when he became artistic director of the Ensemble Vocal Tudor de Montreal, a position he held until 1991. He is now organist at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. Known as a pianist, harpsichordist and organist, Patrick Wedd has collaborated with a number of instrumental ensembles. He is also a composer, with a number of sacred works and instrumental compositions to his credit.

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