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<<  -- 4 --  Jennifer Paull    AARON RABUSHKA

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A second recording on the same label in their 2001 series (VMM 3052), again with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra under Toshiyuki Shimada, is of Aaron Rabushka's Trombone Concerto (2000). This was written for the very talented soloist, Jiri Vyndra.

Once more, Rabushka starts with an opening cadenza, just as he did in Concerto Vocale. In the latter, the solo flute unveils an ambience of dreams, following an introductory vocal statement. Here, the trombone also sets off boldly, alone along its path, to be joined by the violins and an increasing tension. This ebbs and flows until an inner dance bubbles to the surface, and carries the trombone and the orchestra along together in lush, harmonic progressions.

Coming as I do from the North of England, I cannot hear brass instruments without feeling a native tug at the Brass Band tradition buried (very) deeply inside my DNA. Anthony Burgess (1917-1993), himself from Manchester, captured this flavour exactly in his novel The Pianoplayers. Should any film maker turn this book into cinema, as was the case with Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, nobody need look further than the first movement of Rabushka's Trombone Concerto for the perfect accompaniment. The book is set in Provence and Manchester. That's exactly how the colours of this concerto strike me. From Chagall's Vence in the South of France, to the Pier Theatres in places like Blackpool in the North of England, the hues and nuances from the pen of the author appear in parallel form with that of the composer. Pierrot and Columbine are not far away, neither is turmoil, nor humour. Never is Rabushka one to miss a hoedown, a knees-up, or a bal du samedi soir.

The original theme returns, but first the trombone leads us in a colourful procession through a Camille Saint-Saëns-èsque farmyard where we briefly catch sight of the Hens and the Cockerels.

The second movement is a beautiful, slow Waltz that is majestic and never over-sweet. The orchestra restates the theme to an obligato from the soloist. It concludes with a sprinkling of sherbet quartertones, a lovely touch: a tear glinting in the corner of Pierrot's eye?

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Copyright © 7 July 2002 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland

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A REVIEW OF THE 'MUSIC FROM SIX CONTINENTS' CDS

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