Bass Trombone Concerto

How much new music, or any music for that matter, can you think of that is scored for bass trombone and piano? Not even Hindemith wrote a sonata for the combo! But, now, thanks to bass trombonist Charles Vernon and pianist Eric Ewazen, there’s a whole disc of this stuff out there. The disc features everything from Halsey Stevens’s Sonatina and Alec Wilder’s Sonata, both mid-century I-would-imagine-bass-trombone-and-piano-repertoire-staples (if such things could be said to exist) to two short lyrical pieces by Robert Spillman, known primarily as the conductor of the Boulder Bach Festival in Colorado.



The highlight, however, is believe it or not, a “concerto” for bass trombone, presented humbly here without the orchestra, by John Williams, undoubtedly known to most of you primarily for his more than 80 film scores and conducting the Boston Pops. Stripped to a piano reduction, Williams’s concerto is transformed into a formidable piece of chamber music, a remarkably exciting and virtuosic dialogue between two very dissimilar instruments.



The pianist Eric Ewazen is also represented on this disc as a composer by an orchestra-less version of his bass trombone concerto. It’s one of five works he’s composed thus far for the instrument, all of which have been previously collected in fully orchestrated versions on an earlier Albany CD, cheekily titled Bass Hits.


—FJO