Trombone Concerto

Philip Sparke’s Trombone Concerto was commissioned by the Deutsche Bläserphilharmonie for a recording of Philip Sparke’s music in October 2006. The concerto was written for, and is dedicated to, Olaf Ott, principal trombone with the Berlin Philharmonic.

The concerto is in traditional three-movement form and the whole work could be seen as a dramatic soliloquy for the soloist, who starts in earnest and agitated mood but, as the concerto progresses, is able to take a more optimistic tone until he ends the work with a ‘symphonic’ samba.

The first movement starts darkly and, although the soloist introduces a more positive mood over a lightly scored accompaniment, the band introduces a faster, troubled central section, which overpowers any feeling of optimism, and the movement closes over a sombre drum ostinato.

The second movement opens with a heart-felt plea from the band which is echoed by the soloist. He then plays a simple chorale melody which introduces a delicate central section, featuring a chant-like tune. This is taken up by the trombone and leads to a joyous climax which heralds a return of the opening material.

The third movement casts aside the troubled feel of the preceding ones and is a joyful samba. A jazz-influenced central tune explores the higher ranges of the trombone before the samba rhythms set up a ‘contest’ between the soloist and the band’s trombone section. The soloist is the eventual ‘winner’ and he celebrates by reintroducing the samba melody before bringing the work to a virtuosic close.

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