Derek Bourgeois' Trombone Concerto is a substantial twenty-minute piece in three movements, "Allegro," "Adagio," and "Presto." Because trombonists from the worlds of pop and jazz would attend the premiere as well as classical artists, Bourgeois decided to make his new concerto musically ecumenical, and it was deliberately tailored to have an appeal wider than the usual classical audience. The third movement, in particular, was a great hit.
Genre: Solo Trombone with Band | # of Players: Standard + 1
Level: 5 | Duration: 20:00
1st Bb Clarinet
2nd Bb Clarinet
3rd Bb Clarinet
Eb Alto Clarinet*
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone*
1st/2nd F Horn
3rd/4th F Horn
1st Bb Cornet
2nd/3rd Bb Cornet
1st/2nd Bb Trumpet
Percussion (snare drum, suspended cymbal, bass drum, glockenspiel)
Parts marked with an asterisk (*) are NOT ESSENTIAL, although their presence will obviously enable a fuller realization of the composer's intentions to be achieved.
The first movement of Derek Bourgeois' Trombone Concerto is constructed Classically: the solo trombone immediately launches into the opening theme in F minor, conceived harmonically in a sequence of descending thirds and it is the solo trombone too that introduces the lyrical second idea, in A flat, presented over chords which are given mobility by dark-toned alto and bass clarinets.
These contrasting subjects give the composer ample opportunity to let loose his fertile imagination, whether expanding on the Baroque qualities of the opening material in a fugato section for woodwinds, or boldly stating the romantic second theme on brass leading to cascading sextuplets, or with the soloist presenting the first theme in augmentation against a ripple of semi-quavers.
After this development, there is virtually a formal recapitulations in the woodwinds and the soloist repeats the second theme in tonic (F) major. The movement closes with pianissimo chords - no great bravura here, but leading us in mood to the second movement which opens a tone lower in E-flat.
Here, the rich tone of the soloist is matched by three accompanying trombones - with the writing equaling the expressiveness of a cello quartet. Gradually, the rest of the low brass join as the solo trombone weaves a seamless, almost Wagnerian theme, extending phrases sequentially. This movement has two separate thoughts and a solo clarinet answers the trombone with a new theme accompanied only by three horns, euphonium, and pizzicato string bass.
Whilst most of the slow movement is contemplative, Bourgeois allows the band to unleash the full fortissimo passion implied in the second, clarinet theme, before the movement closes as it began - but this time only two trombones accompany the soloist, and all three are muted.
After the passion of the slow movement, Bourgeois adopts a Classical rondo form as a 6/8 Scherzo, marked Presto, which gives the release we need. It is fun, to be thrown off lightly as we enjoy the semitone shifts with a wry smile. Towards the end of the movement is a cadenza which alludes to the thematic content of the first movement, but aurally the hard work has been done. For the soloist however, the music requires a virtuoso combination of slide and tongue.
Derek Bourgeois' Trombone Concerto was commissioned by the British Trombone Society for the International Trombone Workshop at Eton, England, July 1989 with gratefully acknowledged assistance from Southern Arts. The world premiere was given by Christian Lindberg.