Myths and Legends
David Begnoche, Barney McCollum, Brent Phillips, Jonathan Whitaker, trombones
Myths and Legends, Eric Ewazen; Quartet, Leslie Bassett; Consort for Four Trombones, Charles Wuorinen; Quartet, Fisher Tull; Quartet, John La Montaine; For Jim, Phillip Schroeder; Toccata, Phil Snedecor
This disc of world premiere recordings of American trombone quartets showcases many of the trends, some might say stereotypes, of writing for multiple trombones. The disc boasts not only world premiere recordings, but also the complete recordings of trombone quartets by Pulitzer prize winning composers (Bassett, Wuorinen, and La Montaine). Each piece is well crafted for the ensemble and well executed by the performers. The Ewazen work is further example of the composer’s solid brass composition style featuring bold fanfares, warm and lush chorales, and jaunty rhythmic changes. Bassett’s Quartet favors the bold and dramatic as well, which is what I expected from most of the works on this disc.
Wuorinen’s Consort is a complicated and energetic work with a stronger harmonic and narrative profile than most of the rest of the pieces on this recording. The Stentorian Consort hits every note and shape perfectly. Fisher Tull and John La Montaine’s offerings bring back the boldness and chorale trends, with the exception of the stunning throbs that permeate the slow movement to Tull’s Quartet.
Phillip Schroeder’s For Jim is unlike anything else on the disc and I thank him for it. Any and all of the previous trends and stereotypes of music for trombone are thrown out the window and yet he still delivers a piece that sounds best when played by trombones. The sultry and twisting movement is haunting, graceful, and elegant in ways that none of the previous pieces could be. Phil Snedecor’s Toccata is a wonderful and fresh closer that takes all of the previous kinds of gestures heard on the disc and mashes them into a joyful two-minute work that must be a heck of a lot of fun to play.