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Barton Cummings
National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI) Journal, April 2010

This is a fun piece and the performance demonstrates the great imagination of the composer. A fine performance from all.

Naxos is to be congratulated for its dedication to producing what is becoming a monumental library of recordings of music for the Wind Band and for releasing discs such as this one. There is not a bad recording in the lot and this is a project that is long over due and one that all players should be aware of and collecting.

The present recording is wonderful and the playing magnificent. It receives the highest recommendation in the strongest terms.

Barry Kilpatrick
American Record Guide, May 2009

Bauer is a member of the National Orchestra of Lille and the quintet Trombonissimo, and he teaches at the Roubaix Conservatory. Except for the Ewazen concerto, all of these works were composed for him, and each—Jerome Naulais’s three-movement Star of the Deep (1999), Marc Lys’s nine-movement Dizziness (2000), and Marc Stecker’s three-movement Two Steps Away (1999)—is rooted in jazz. They fit Bauer’s playing style well.

Eric Ewazen’s Bass Trombone Concerto (1995) has become the centerpiece of bass trombone repertory…it is a good reading, with especially fine playing in the virtuoso material at the very end.

Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, May 2009

With three of the works contained in this program written especially for him, Yves Bauer, bass trombonist of the Lille National Orchestra, has been a catalyst for expanding the hitherto limited solo opportunities for his instrument. One’s response to this release will depend on expectation. Those looking for works that exploit the bass trombone’s Wagnerian weightiness or for works of challenging modernity may wish to move on. These four works draw more on the bass trombone’s jazz and pop heritage, and a couple of the works have a decidedly big band quality to them. Fans of jazz or so-called light classics may well find something of interest here.

Etoile des profondeurs (“Star of the Deep”), the title and concerto form notwithstanding, is basically pop music—pleasantly flashy in the style of a 1970s musical-comedy score. Given Jérôme Naulais’s 30 years as a trombonist in the Ensemble Intercontemporain, I really expected something a little edgier. It is likable enough and well constructed, but certainly not, as the title implies, deep. The rather rigorous third movement cadenza sounds noticeably out of place in this context.

From its portentous beginning, Marc Lys’s Vertiges (“Dizziness”), a concerto in the form of a theme and variations, is considerably more rewarding. Combining modern harmonies with Latin dance, this is indeed a dizzying array of styles and rhythms: a 23-minute tour de force for the soloist, with delicious solo opportunities for the members of the band as well, and a real workout for the percussion. Even the bass clarinet gets a solo turn in the Samba finale.

The principal theme of the first movement of Eric Ewazen’s Bass Trombone Concerto may be just a bit too facile, redolent of a film score from some B-grade Western, but there is nothing else superficial about this impressively well-crafted work. Throughout, Ewazen showcases the easily overlooked lyrical capabilities of the bass trombone. The singing quality of the Andante espressivo movement is especially moving. The Stravinskian opening to the final movement soon gives way to music almost Coplandesque, and if the spirited central section of this movement again suggests the Western, it doesn’t detract. The cadenza is impressive, and impressively played. While the movement may lack the promised “thundering rhythms,” it certainly delivers on the energy. Now if I could just get that darn theme out of my head…

Marc Steckar helps with some compelling jazz. Deux marches d’écart (“Two Steps Away”) sounds like a Stan Kenton chart and is easily the most progressive and, to me, the most interesting work on the CD. Quirky and sassy, one never knows what to expect, especially once Steckar throws in those first movement quotes from Yankee Doodle and Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody. The darker turn of the central movement and the propulsive third exploit all aspects of the bass trombone’s interpretive range while being part of one of the most enjoyable big band pieces I’ve heard in years.

Throughout, virtuoso Yves Bauer negotiates every challenge with élan, singing seductively with a velvet tone and dispatching tricky rhythms with apparent ease. The French Air Force Band and its conductor are equally fine: a really impressive jazz ensemble with excellent soloists. Expectations adjusted, this is a very satisfying release., January 2009

The CD called Music for Bass Trombone and Wind Band shows some of what has happened to wind-band music in the decades since Sousa’s death in 1932—and gives listeners a chance to focus on an instrument that is very rarely heard in a solo capacity. The three French compositions on this CD were all composed for Yves Bauer, who offers both virtuosity and sensitivity on his instrument. The Bass Trombone Concerto by American composer Eric Ewazen, originally for orchestra, was arranged for wind band by Virginia Allen and sounds quite fine, even exciting, in that version. All the music on this CD has one foot firmly in the world of jazz; all of it attempts to exploit both the rich lower register of the bass trombone and its virtuoso capabilities. Marc Lys’ Vertiges (“Dizziness”), a nine-movement theme and variations, is the most interesting of the works, giving the soloist and ensemble some real rhythmic challenges in, among other things, a rumba and a samba. Both Ewazen’s work and Jérôme Naulais’ Etoile des profondeurs (“Star of the Deep”) are essentially classical in structure—each is in three movements, in fast-slow-fast form—but both use a very modern harmonic approach and include considerable expectations of the soloist’s ability. Marc Steckar’s Deux Marches d’écart (“Two Steps Away”), whose French title is a pun on the composer’s name [Marches d’écart = Marc Steckar], is the shortest work here and is also in three-movement (or three-section) form, with particular emphasis on the bass trombone’s lowest register (which is very low indeed). The

unfamiliarity of both the solo instrument and these compositions provides an unusual and interesting listening experience, and the playing of both soloist and ensemble is exemplary throughout.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2008

Coming from the world of light music, the latest in the Naxos ‘Wind Band Classics’ offers four 20th century concertos to showcase the solo virtuosity of the bass trombone. The American composer, Eric Ewazen, is the one exception in a disc that otherwise is totally French, the outstanding soloist, Yves Bauer, a product of the Strasbourg Conservatoire before joining the Orchestre National de Lille. Three of the four works were composed for him, the earliest Etoile des profondeurs coming from Jerome Naulais, its three-movement concerto format taking its inspiration from the world of jazz and popular music. Marc Steckar displays his years playing in Big Bands in a colourful Deux Marches d’ecart, an outgoing score that often has the feel of improvisation, and I particularly enjoyed Vertiges by Marc Lys, its shape as a theme and variations taking in many dances, both past and present, and concludes with an effervescent Samba. Ewazen’s score is of a very different mode, having progressed from a trombone sonata to a concerto ‘test piece’ for brass students at New York’s Juilliard School of Music. For Bauer the whole disc is a comprehensive and searching display of his technical adroitness and of his ease in such a diverse range of musical styles. He has with him the wind band, L’orchestre d’harmonie de la Musique de l’Air, a long established and outstanding ensemble who play some demanding accompaniments with considerable skill. My one reservation is the forward placement of Bauer which does restrict his dynamic range. The disc is a ‘Limited Editon’ and you may look for Internet supply.

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