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ClassicsOnline Home » Bass Trombone and Wind Band Music - NAULAIS, J. / LYS, M. / EWAZEN, E. / STECKAR, M. (Y. Bauer, Musique de l'Air, Kesmaecker)
The bass trombone has a wonderfully rich tone and sonorous depth yet is rarely featured as a solo instrument. The four remarkable works on this disc, all but one composed for Yves Bauer, bass trombone soloist of the Lille National Orchestra, explore the instrument’s technical and expressive range. Vertiges is a concerto in the form of a theme and variations with an array of dizzyingly contrasting moods. Etoile des profondeurs takes inspiration from jazz and popular music. The title Deux Marches d’écart is a pun on the composer’s name (Marc Steckar), while the thrilling Concerto for Bass Trombone and Wind Ensemble is by turns playful, lyrical and heroically virtuosic.
By Barton Cummings
National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI) Journal
By David Denton
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.
Music for Bass Trombone and Wind Band
Jérôme Naulais (b. 1951): Etoile des profondeurs • Marc Lys (b. 1963): Vertiges
Eric Ewazen (b. 1954): Bass Trombone Concerto • Marc Steckar (b. 1935): Deux marches d’écart
The bass trombone is an orchestral instrument for which very few solo works have been written. Thanks to a grant obtained from the Nord pas de Calais Music Federation, I have been able to pursue my aim of bringing its noble sound and huge potential to a wider audience by extending its repertoire.
Each in his own way, Marc Lys, Jérôme Naulais and Marc Steckar, all offered to compose something for me. As for Eric Ewazen, I was lucky enough to meet him in France when I was performing his concerto with the Orchestre National de Lille. Here is what they have to say about their music.
Vertiges (Dizziness) is a concerto in the form of a theme and variations for bass trombone and large wind band. It is made up of nine successive sequences, whose titles describe the various changes of atmosphere that occur throughout the piece: Possession – Pulsions (Impulses) – Poursuite (Pursuit) – Vaudou(Voodoo) – Incantatoire, sensuel et lyrique (Incantatory, sensual and lyrical) – Possession 2 – Rumba – Bossa groove – Samba. A full and detailed orchestration gives particular prominence to the bass clarinet and the percussion section. There is also a version of this concerto for tenor trombone, as well as a trio adaptation (for trombone, piano and percussion). Vertiges is dedicated to Yves Bauer.
- Marc Lys
Bass Trombone Concerto
The Concerto for Bass Trombone and Wind Ensemble began life as a sonata for solo bass trombone (or tuba) and piano. I was then commissioned to turn this work into a concerto to be used as the Concerto Competition piece for the low brass students at The Juilliard School. This was completed in the summer of 1997, and the orchestral version was premiered with Stefan Sanders, who won the competition on bass trombone. Virginia Allen, a dear friend and teacher of conducting at Juilliard, subsequently arranged the work for bass trombone (or tuba) and wind ensemble, which was performed both by the Army Band in Washington D.C. and the USMA Band at West Point. I am so grateful to Yves Bauer and his glorious playing of my music to have recorded my concerto with the great French Air Force Band. They give a thrilling performance of my piece!
The three movements of the work cover a wide variety of musical gestures and colours. The first movement, in a traditional sonata allegro form, is alternately playful, lyrical and dynamic, with the soloist providing the main motives which get tossed back and forth between the bass trombone and the wind ensemble. The second movement is wistful and melancholy, but also quite peaceful, as the soloist sings its melodic lines over a resonant wind ensemble accompaniment. The third movement is full of life and energy, quite virtuosic with thundering rhythms, often agressive musical gestures, and dramatic solo lines leading to a monumental cadenza and heroic finale.
- Eric Ewazen
Etoile des profondeurs
Etoile des profondeurs (Star of the Deep) is written in concerto form, in other words in three clearly distinct movements, and highlights all the richness and depth of sonority the bass trombone can offer. Stylistically, the work takes its inspiration from jazz and popular music, its virtuosic writing making huge demands of the soloist, particularly in the third movement with its extended cadenza.
- Jérôme Naulais
Deux marches d’écart
The title Deux marches d’écart (Two Steps Away) is a pun on my own name and reminds me of when I used to play in a big band, two rows away from the soloist. I think I have made the most of the bass trombone’s wonderful range—those great low notes that should be used more often to enhance the overall wind-band sound.
- Marc Steckar
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