Restoring the Trombone Concerto’s original Hard Mode

In the second movement of David Maslanka’s Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble, there is an extended and demanding technical section from m. 108 to m. 256, about four minutes of nearly continuous playing. It rests in the upper tessitura of the trombone range, mostly between D3 and C4, and alternates between very loud staccato sixteenth passages and soft, high lyrical playing.

The version that is currently published and recorded is one that was cut down due to technical considerations. I thought it was time that soloists had the opportunity to perform the work as it was originally conceived. This new, restored version increases the difficulty in execution: it requires extremely clean technique at a high, constant power level in a very tiring range for a long time, culminating in a protracted shout.

During the initial preparation of the piece, technical realities forced David to reduce the difficulty of this section: extended sixteenth-note passages were broken up with eighth notes, some passages were taken down an octave, and cuts were made to reduce endurance challenges.

This had the effect of somewhat reducing the impact of the section. Its initial statement (mm. 109-111) is developed throughout in various ways.

Trombone Concerto mm 109-111

This is the primary building block of the section starting at m. 108.

The removed sixteenths in the immediately-following development weaken the connection with the initial statement. When they are restored, the power of the second phrase becomes evident.

Trombone Concerto mm. 112-114

The first development of the initial segment. The restored version is on top; the easier version is on bottom. Note how the full restatement of the initial material strengthens its connection.

By restoring the cut sixteenths, this kind of motivic connection is improved throughout.

Other cuts were made to reduce the endurance difficulties. Starting in m. 230, the soloist is required to maintain maximum volume on a near-constant alternating G3-A3 figure through to m. 256. This is extremely fatiguing, coming as it does after the deceptively-tiring soft, high lyrical playing in mm. 127-149 and protracted loud sixteenth note passages. By the time m. 230 comes around, even the most stalwart of embouchures will face a formidable challenge. David cut certain bars to allow blood to come back into the lips (m. 234, mm. 241-2, and mm. 247-9).

Since the ensemble is essentially doubling the soloist through this entire passage, the loss is less significant than earlier. However, with those bars restored, this becomes a defining and thrilling statement of fortitude and drive, pushing through the emotional boundaries at the edge of the performer’s ability.

You may download a non-printing PDF of the new solo part here:

PDF, 260 KB

The solo part, a new piano reduction, and the ensemble score and parts are available through Maslanka Press.

By |2016-12-09T23:08:46+00:0030 January 2015|Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble|