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CD review: Loudmouthed Beauty

Concert Pieces for Bass Trombone
Clare Farr
Featuring: Inger-Lise Ulsrud (organ); Sverre Riise (tenor trombone); Sidsel Walstad (harp); Petter Winroth (trombone); Sigstein Folgero (piano); Norwegian Trombone Ensemble
LAWO Recordings: CD LWC1242




Although recorded in 2021 this impressive release from Clare Farr retains its refreshing sense of sustained musical intelligence.

Seven contrasting works are delivered in recital mode, aided by inventive accompaniment and association. It makes for compelling listening; the soloist’s flexible stylistic substance and Nordic granite technique underpinned by a tonality drawn from oil-well pitch-tar to plumb porter lightness. 

Lush Darkness

Farr’s perceptive appreciation binds everything together; the opening ‘Lush Darkness – glaring light (because the loudmouthed forgot the beauty of a simple tone)’  providing a questioning appraisal of the bass trombonist’s true art – especially a calming awareness of texture and malleability.  It is a little masterclass in less is more. 

Ernst Sachse’s ‘Concerto in F major’  with its original romanticised tenor trombone gymnastics is handled with equally delicate aplomb, as is Alex Lebedjew’s ‘Concerto No 1’,  originally for tuba, but taken to the passionate heart by bass trombone players ever since.  

Charles Small’s ‘Conversation’  is an intimate discourse between good trombone friends (joined by Petter Winroth); pointed, witty and argumentative but never less than respectful - like a night on a sofa chewing the fat over a few bottles of favourite wine.

Charles Small’s ‘Conversation’  is an intimate discourse between good trombone friends (joined by Petter Winroth); pointed, witty and argumentative but never less than respectful - like a night on a sofa chewing the fat over a few bottles of favourite wine.

The delightful ‘Sang till Lotta’  (Song for Lotta) is a ruby red gem of encouragement and support of youthful endeavour (the young girl in question becoming not a trombone player but working for the UN). 

Hamlet

Ambitions of a very different kind though are revealed by the introspective questioning of the human condition that comes with the Hamlet soliloquy ‘Etre ou ne pas etre’  (‘To be or not to be’). 

The acceptance of the ‘slings and arrows of misfortune’ brings a stark coldness to the timbre (and accompanying ensemble) like a frightening peek into a personal abyss that engulfs the ‘grunt and sweat under a weary life’

They cannot be more marked: The acceptance of the ‘slings and arrows of misfortune’ brings a stark coldness to the timbre (and accompanying ensemble) like a frightening peek into a personal abyss that engulfs the ‘grunt and sweat under a weary life’.

There is also a soliloquy inspired acceptance of fate in ‘The Daughters of Erde’  – a startling piece of deeply characterised mythical Nordic womanhood by Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen. 

‘Urd’  has a roughly hewn directness, whilst ‘Skuld’  (played by tenor trombonist Sverre Riise) displays a more reflective, yet corrosive strain of thought. ‘Verdende’  fluctuates with the hidden connectivity of twins – a duo of peace as well as malevolence.

It is fantastically performed – as is the release as a whole. 

Iwan Fox 


To purchase:
https://www.challengerecords.com/products/16558114201850

Play list:

1. Lush Darkness – glaring light (because the loudmouthed forgot the beauty of a simple tone) (Bente Leiknes Thorsen)

2. Concerto in F major (Ernst Sachse)
Featuring: Inger-Lise Ulsrud (organ)

i. Allegro maestoso
ii. Andante (adagio)
iii. Theme and Variations

5. Etre ou ne pa etre (Henri Tomasi)
Featuring: Norwegian Trombone Ensemble

6. The Daughters of Erda (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)
i. Urd
ii. Skuld
Featuring: Sverre Riise 
iii. Verdande
Featuring: Sverre Riise

9. Sang till Lotta (Jan Sandstrom)
Featuring: Sidsel Walstad (harp)

10. Conversation (Charles Small)
Featuring: Petter Winroth

11. Concerto No. 1 (Alexej Lebedjew
Featuring: Sigstein Folgero (piano)  

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