There are a few pieces that, whenever you get the chance to perform them, are just always a treat. The thing that makes them a bright spot, to me, is the musical ideas available to us, and the many choices the performers can make. With a piece like this perennial favorite by Henri Tomasi, we always have a new way to try, or different ideas decided on by the group, and a different soloist to support.
The Marine Band has a fairly prolific chamber music series, in both fall and winter, and many of the Band’s musicians really look forward to a chance to perform on these recitals. To me, there is nothing more enjoyable as a musician than chamber music. You have some of challenges of solo playing, but you get the fun of teamwork with your friends in the chamber ensemble on top of it. As a trombonist, you are often the only trombone in chamber music settings which gives you a chance to be a solo voice more frequently, and to contribute your unique sound to the ensemble.
While this piece is, essentially, a trombone quartet, Tomasi does a remarkable job of showcasing what a trombone section can do, and he does so in a very theatrical way. Of course, with a title drawn from Shakespeare, it darn well better be theatrical!
We made a couple of musical choices that I hope you enjoy…. I always see this piece performed in a more or less standard “four bones across” quartet setup. We opted to put the soloist in the center, with the trio off to the side and farther away, with the idea that we could serve more as a commentary to the solo voice, possibly more Shakespearean, but who knows? It was fun to do something different! We also opted for some fast slide vibrato where Tomasi indicates vibrato in the score, to give a shimmering effect with a different texture.
We performed this piece on a Marine Band chamber series concert, and then decided we wanted to have some more fun recording it. This is the result of a single late night session capturing our musical take (this time) on this trombone favorite.
I am always thrilled to play with my colleagues in the Marine Band, and this piece is no exception. Besides Daniel’s stellar bass trombone playing, Christopher Reaves and Tim Dugan covered the tenor trombone parts with me, and we had a great time doing it! Also, Will Samson was indispensable running the recording rig and taking notes on our various takes….thanks, Will!