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Sackbutt – Trombone in the 17th and 18th century+
Johann Georg ALBRECHTSBERGER (1736–1809)
Concerto in Bb (1769) [14:23]
Antonio BERTALI (1605–1669)
Sonata 3 [5:35]
Dario CASTELLO (15??–1630?)
Quarta Sonata [4:46]
Leopold MOZART (1719–1787)
Concerto in D [11:30]
Johann Heinrich SCHMELZER (1623–1680)
Sonata 3 [5:21]
Biagio MARINI (1594–1663)
Sonata 4 [3:11]
Georg Christoph WAGENSEIL (1715–1777)
Concerto in Eb [8:14]
Antonio BERTALI (1605–1669)
Sonata 3 [6:15]
Jrgen van Rijen (trombone)
Combattimento Consort Amsterdam/Jan Willem de Vriend
rec. September 2007, Waalskerk, Amsterdam, DDD


Experience Classicsonline

I must say that this isn’t the kind of CD which I thought would appeal to me. After all, what kind of pleasure can one derive from an hour’s worth of 17th and 18th century trombone Concertos and chamber works? Well, quite a lot is the answer to that.

This is a very interesting, and varied, programme and although most of the composers won’t be known to you, don’t let that put you off. As I often say, there’s much to enjoy here. 

Albrectsberger’s Concerto makes a very good start. The notes tell us that when this piece was rediscovered musicologists couldn’t believe, because of the virtuosity of the solo writing, that it was really a work for trombone! Rijen proves, with ease, that it most certainly is a work for trombone, and he revels in the twists and turns of the music, not to mention the virtuosity. The trills - the stumbling block for the musicologists - and runs, are thrown off with aplomb.

The Concerto by Leopold Mozart is music of great character. Mozart pre obviously shared his sense of humour with his more famous son. The first movement is truly virtuosic music, but it never loses sight of the fact that it is entertainment music. The slow movement contains much writing for the high register and the finale is a stately minuet. This is mock regal music, then the trombone enters playing a gentle theme and pretending to be a winsome little thing, this constitutes the trio, then the orchestra alone repeats the minuet. 

Wagenseil’s Concerto has two movements, a medium paced, poetic, andante, and a fast conclusion. This work doesn’t have the virtuosity of the other concertos but it does have an easier lyricism. 

The other works on this disk are chamber works and they make fine foils to the bigger pieces. The first of Antonio Bertali’s Sonatas, for two violins, trombone and continuo, starts with the most startlingly hectic music, continues with a gentler, more gallant, middle section, and ends with a rather tender utterance. His other Sonata, for two violins and trombone (or bassoon) and continuo, is more formal, and a little austere at the start, then he launches into a dance movement and the trombone writing becomes quite frighteningly frenzied. There’s probably more variety in these two pieces than in all the concertos! 

Castello’s Quarto Sonata falls into several different sections and there’s a wide variety of moods – from dance to elegiac – and ends in a most unusual way. Schmelzer’s Sonata, for violin, trombone, bassoon and organ, begins quite seriously, rather undecided in its journey, until a merry dance breaks out, led by the trombone, After this it simply keeps up the dance and ends in repose. Finally, Biagio Marini’s Sonata, for two violins, viola (or trombone!), bass and continuo. Again there’s a serious start before a faster section and a medium paced section leads back into the dance. 

There’s an astonishing amount of variety on this disk, and this helps the colourful nature of the music. Rijen, who is principal trombone of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, is an excellent player who obviously feels for this music and cares about its proper presentation. It’s his commitment which helps to make this disk the success it is. He plays replicas of an alt sackbut and a tenor sackbut, made by Franz Meinl and Johann Lauber in 1977 and 1991 respectively. The playing of Combattimento Consort Amsterdam is admirable; the small group has little to do, in the concertos, except accompany, it’s never really allowed to shine alone, but that’s the nature of the music. I should also mention that there’s a variety of instruments used as continuo – harpsichord, organ, chitarrone and cello and bass – and this contributes to the great variety of tone colour on the disk. 

The recording is very crisp and clear and although the performers are situated quite close to the microphones, you can still feel the ambience of the Church where the recording was made. 

The presentation of the disk is attractive, in a gatefold sleeve. The notes, which are contained in a booklet which fits into a pocket on the inside of the front sleeve, though not extensive, help one navigate one’s way through the music.

Bob Briggs



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