This disc is, first and foremost, a vehicle for
the stunning virtuosity of Christian Lindberg. But it is much
more than that. He could, after all, have played a string of arrangements
or transcriptions finishing, as others do, with his own version
of Flight of the Bumble Bee. Instead (and typical of the
musician and this label) we have an excellent survey of serious
and pretty substantial 20th Century works for trombone and orchestra.
None of them are masterpieces, but given the composers involved,
all the music is beautifully crafted and at its best, quite memorable.
As the front cover shows, the disc is marketed
on the back of the so-called Motorbike Concerto.
This is not as fearsomely modern a piece as you may think. In
fact, scanning the titles of the individual movements may give
you a clue as to the tone that it sets; The Everglades, The Mountain
in Provence and The Land of the Aborigines. A short introduction
and finale frame these three sections, and the piece basically
resembles a musical ‘travelogue in sound’, with everything linked
by Lindberg’s motorbike imitations on his instrument. The whole
piece is colourful and very entertaining, and is meant to show
the philosophical musings of the free biker as he roams the world,
a sort of musical counterpart to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle
Maintenance. The solo part is suitably taxing (the range
extends to nearly five octaves) and there are some orchestral
sounds that are modernistic though always tonal. But overall this
is a deeply thoughtful, almost elegiac tone poem for our troubled
The remaining works are solid, early-mid 20th
Century in their musical language, and all seem typical of their
composers. The Bloch Symphony is (as the title suggests)
tightly constructed, with the accent on sharing material out between
partners rather than pitting the trombone against the orchestra.
The opening theme, with its American Indian feel, sounds straight
out of his Violin Concerto, and the rest of the melodic
material has this composer’s hallmarks all over it, the solo part
being inspired by the Jewish shofar, or ram’s horn from
the Old Testament.
The Serocki Concerto is basically
traditional, quite colourful and based in part on Polish folk
tunes and dances. The lento sections of the first two movements
do betray something deeper, the darker harmonies and trombone’s
growlings hinting at the menace of working as a composer in the
Eastern Europe of the Stalin era.
It’s a pity the Martin Ballade
isn’t longer, as it packs a lot in and hints at bigger things
along the way. Martin was one of the most gifted and inventive
voices of the middle-20th Century and he set about
writing for the unusual solo instrument (this piece was originally
for a competition) with his usual flair and craftsmanship. It
makes an excellent opener to the programme.
Recording is all we have come to expect from
this source, and the notes, by Lindberg himself, could hardly
be bettered. A well planned and beautifully executed disc, and
not just for trombone buffs!