I enthusiastically recommend this piece as a primary consideration for ANY bass trombonist who has the opportunity to perform a concerto or compete in a concerto competition. It is masterfully orchestrated with the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the bass trombone front and center. The colors are extraordinary, the themes expansive, and the fresh harmonic approach and rhythmic treatments are infused with Russian and American spirit. Sleeper, a bass trombonist himself, has written a concerto for his native instrument that is a tour de force of expression and meaningfully connects with audiences and accompanying musicians alike. His Bass Trombone Concerto No. 2 is at once exploratory and unified, inspiring and bound with the hearth fires of genuine humanity.
In the first movement, the heroic voice of the bass trombone elicits thematic stringed responses frozen in homorhythms and fateful pulsations alternating with aqueous dissolutions of polyrhythms. The violins become mournful and sweeten and slow the first movement to a climactic nadir and brief soliloquy interposed with the depth of perfectly placed percussion which howls into regular accentuations as the accompaniment forms to include brass and woodwinds.
The second movement is warmed by strings and spiced with textured and deep, yet sparing, percussive effects. Breathtakingly cinematic with the interrogative melodic juxtaposition of strings and a bass trombone line that simultaneously moans and soars.
The third movement is steeled with resolve and yet optimistically takes flight. It begins with the notes of the woodwinds seemingly perched on the head of the timpani, only to scatter at its first sounding. At one point the bass trombone has strewn sixteenth notes like bread crumbs which the strings devour with birdlike entrances, until the soliloquy returns. Richer, deeper, infused with with textured meaning and recapitulated variation.
Thanks to composer Thom Sleeper, conductor Dr. Laura Joella and the many fine musicians of the Florida Atlantic University Symphony Orchestra.
Both the music-making and the dedication are more meaningful because they are shared with friends.
My performance here is dedicated to my dear and beloved dad, James Brubeck.
Text: c. 2018 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved
Concerto: c. 2016 Thomas Sleeper All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com