The Trombone Concerto No. 1 was written at the request of Per Brevig of the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Julliard School of Music. He performed the premier under the direction of Joel Lazar.
The concerto was planned as a work which would display the aggressive, lyrical, witty, and flamboyant qualities of the trombone. These qualities are apparent in each of the three movements, but the movements themselves are based on the Baroque idea of concerto form, that is, they are sectional rather than developmental. The titles Capriccio, Canzona, and Fantazia, which are drawn from Baroque instrumental forms reflect this concept.
Sharp changes of mood or a change in orchestral texture indicate the different sections of the Capriccio. The first section is primarily a cadenza for the trombone. The second section is quite important because the running woodwind figures found here become the basis for the beginning of the last movement of the work. The third section, for orchestra alone, increases in momentum toward a cadenza for the trombone accompanied by improvising percussion. A quiet orchestral interlude followed by a rapid, fortissimo coda ends the movement.
The second movement is written in a simple A-B-A form. The A section is jazz-like, while the B section is a scherzo which becomes more and more animated, ending in an orchestral "explosion". The A section returns, in a varied form, followed by a coda which begins as if it were a return to the B section, but is soon masked by large polychords in the strings in a long decrescendo.
The third movement is based in large part on ideas presented originally in the preceding two movements. The first section of the third movement is based on material from the second section of the first movement. This is followed by a section reminiscent of the B section of the second movement. The music moves toward another explosion which dissipates this time into a drunken waltz. The mood of the opening returns, and the movement ends.
Trombone Concerto No. 1 has been recorded by the Bergen (Norway) Symphony Orchestra by Per Brevig, trombone soloist, and Karsten Anderson, conductor on COMPOSERS RECORDINGS, INC. CRI-340.
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