Adding to his prolific portfolio of major recording projects, Brett Baker presents a captivating array of original works for solo trombone and brass band, notably featuring four premiere recordings.
In the first of the premieres, Kenneth Downie's Trombone Time provides an energetic and light-hearted concert item, with the singing central section exploiting the warmth of the instrument. The second brings the listener into the world of John Golland – his Serenade for Trombone proving a languid exploration of broad lyricism for the trombone over subtly shifting harmonies, quite expertly shaped by Brett Baker in this recording. Stephen Roberts Trombango was composed for Brett in 2015 and explores the trademark tango style with considerable range and technique demanded, impressively delivered throughout by the soloist.
The final premiere comes in the form of the CDs title track – Contrasts by Jan Van der Roost. The first movement is entitled Sounds, which showcases a fascinating array of effects and textures through the use of mutes and contemporary performance techniques, such as quartertones. The free tempo and complex harmonies create a deliciously dark, captivating atmosphere that is certainly a highlight of the disk. The work then certainly lives up to its title as the second movement, Caprice, begins. This is about as different from the first movement as it might be possible, being light energetic and almost humorous in character. A slightly bizarre 'contrast' it may be, but the quality of performance throughout cannot be denied.
Alongside the premiere recordings Gordon Langford's popular Rhapsody for Trombone and Peter Graham's rhapsodic The Guardian are given welcome, musically shaped renditions. Meanwhile, Gareth Wood's often under-appreciated Dance Sequence is delivered with aplomb ,the contrasting lively and smooth sections providing a real treat for the year.
An aptly named CD if ever there was one, Brett Baker lives up to his considerable reputation as one of the World's leading trombone exponents. Providing a valuable record of several never before recorded worked performed with characteristic ease, this will be a disc of interest to casual listeners and trombone aficionado alike.