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.
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.
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.
Concerto by Leopold Mozart is music of great character.
Mozart père 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.