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Trombone Concertos
Leopold MOZART (1719-1787)
Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra in D [13:35]
Christian GOUINGUENÉ (b. 1941)
Concerto for Tenor Trombone and Strings in A minor [9:28]

Johann Michael HAYDN (1737-1806)
Concerto for Alto Trombone and Orchestra in D minor (1764) [14:07]; Larghetto for Alto Trombone and Chamber Orchestra in F (1763) [6:41]
Alexandre GUILMANT (1837-1911)
Morceau Symphonique Op. 88 for Trombone and Organ [9:15]
Armin Rosin (trombone)
Edgar Krapp (organ)
Wiener Kammerorchester/Philippe Entremont
rec. Guilmant: Friedenskirche, Stuttgart, November 1976; remainder: Teldec Studios, Zögernitz, Vienna, February 1979
WARNER APEX 2564617932 [53:50] 
Experience Classicsonline

Trombone concertos are rare, and those that do exist are seldom heard in live performance. This disc goes some way towards showing the reasons for this before allowing the soloist’s considerable abilities to be demonstrated more fully in the Michael Haydn and Guilmant items. Of the three pieces described as ‘concerto’, the Leopold Mozart is of minimal musical interest. It was written for Thomas Gschlatt when the composer was employed in Salzburg. The CD notes point out that Gschlatt was a master viola player as well as a trombonist. The original description of the work appears to refer to it as being for either trombone or viola, and the nature of the solo writing does seem more suited to the latter. Although clearly it can be played – and is played here cleanly and well – on the trombone, this adds little to the likely musical effect of what is frankly a dull work.

I played the disc first without consulting the notes, and was expecting the next piece – the Concerto by Gouginguené - to be modern as his is the only name in the list of contents of the CD. My initial reaction on hearing it was that it carried neo-classicism too far, and it was only then that I discovered from the notes by the soloist that it is a transcription of music by Johann David Heinchen (1683-1729). They do not explain its sources in any more detail, but the piece works well enough in this form, although from what little else I know by Heinchen it could well be even better in the original. Its main interest is the charming Siciliano central movement, but even if it cannot be regarded as a lost masterpiece the Concerto as a whole is pleasant and does not outstay its brief welcome. 

The two items by Michael Haydn are of much greater interest. The Larghetto was also written for Thomas Gschlatt as part of a “Trumpet Symphony” that is now incomplete. The Concerto is an arrangement by the soloist of three movements from a slightly later Serenade. Both are engaging pieces, with much greater melodic and formal interest that the Leopold Mozart pieces. In all of these pieces the orchestra sound neat but not especially stylish, and at times they do tend to plod. The soloist plays fluently throughout, at times sounding more like a horn than a trombone. 

Things really start to look up, however, with the final piece – Guilmant’s Morceau Symphonique - which matches the trombone with an organ. This is a much more imaginative piece, making good use of the contrast between the two “big beasts”. I am not sure whether it works formally or whether indeed it is essentially more than a curiosity, but I did enjoy it each time I heard it. It is certainly the best reason for buying the disc. 

Obviously trombone enthusiasts and devotees of the music of Guilmant will have to have it, but others should perhaps be more wary, although you may well think that at the low price of Apex discs it would be worth having for the Guilmant and Michael Haydn items alone.

John Sheppard


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