Any hopes I had of combining the front door painting with listening to this CD were dashed when my radio headphones failed to picked up the softest dynamics and I realised that much of this music deserved my undivided attention. In particular a commission from Ruud van Eeten, Inner Space - Trance of Thought, is a fascinating examination of the birth of an idea, its dissemination and eventual acceptance as truth. Its opening chattering, rhythmic, chordal background underpins long lyrical lines displaying impressively tight ensemble and controlled sostenuto by the New Trombone Collective. This piece caught my attention for the genuinely innovative way it combines largely consonant musical language with contrapuntal merging of its melodic material. A long, introspective central section introduces some fine solo playing before working through to the original ideas.
I was heartened to hear such a fine realisation of Bourgeois' Scherzo Funèbre. Commissioned by Peter Gane for the Guildhall School of Music trombone ensemble, this work deserves to be regarded as a classic. The title is a little misleading in that there is a fairly extensive slow opening in Derek's best tragic mood before the scherzo proper begins. This following 6/8 movement maintains the funereal vein and at times is reminiscent of Holst's The Perfect Fool and Derek's own War March of the Ostriches. The piece is treated to a performance of great integrity and commitment.
It's strange to think that these fine trombonists, who all studied together such a short distance away across the English Channel in Rotterdam, are largely unknown to us. Each holding a position in the Netherlands, they belong to an obviously strong school of playing that is not too dissimilar to ours. Although some may find the sound a little lighter and brighter, it is always controlled with consistent intonation and beautiful melodic lines. Along with the various sponsors and supporters, they are to be congratulated on not only producing this enjoyable CD but in also inspiring some new repertoire. In addition to the Van Eeten, there are new pieces for 6 trombones from Hans Koolmees, Trotter, and Ilja Reijngoud, Where do you want to go today? This latter work, although intended to represent the jazz influence on our instrument, succeeds only in sounding like many other rather slight trombone ensemble pieces. That is not to detract from the wealth of transcriptions (ranging from Sweelinck to Debussy) and lovely Bruckner pastiche by German Brass' Enrique Crespo. Somewhat less successful is a curious quartet by Saskia Apon. The second movement is interesting and original but is quite at odds with its bland first movement.
Personally, I found the recorded sound a little too close; consequently a little congested and lacking brilliance at times, but all in all you have here a good showcase for the New Trombone Collective. If you are a collector of all those fine solo CDs by 'you know who', why not give yourself a break and invest in this one from our close neighbours across the water?
More details of this and future recordings on the New Trombone Collective website.
Musikgroep Nederland CD097034