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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Four of a Kind
Joseph Alessi, Scott A. Hartman,
Mark H. Lawrence, Blair Bollinger

Overture to the "Barber of Seville" - Rossini
(494k mp3 file)
Kindersteucke, Nos. 4, 5, & 6 - Mendelssohn
IV. (582k mp3 file)
V. (407k mp3 file)
VI. (489k mp3 file)
Fugue in D Minor - J. S. Bach (468k mp3 file)
Chaconne - J. S. Bach (501k mp3 file)
Sonata a 4 - Boismortier
I. (562k mp3 file) II. (452k mp3 file)
Five Impromptus - Koetsier
II. (603k mp3 file)  III. (542k mp3 file)
Quatre Pieces - Defay
I. (530k mp3 file)  IV. (329k mp3 file)
God Bless the Child - Holliday/Herzog  (655k mp3 file)
It's Only a Paper Moon - Arlen
Take Me Out to the Ballgame - Norworth
(524k mp3 file)

 

 

 

Program Notes

Delighting audiences since its first performance in 1816 - including a wonderful Chuck Jones/Mel Blanc adaptation for a Bugs Bunny cartoon - the Overture  to GiacchinoRossini's (1792-1868) opera The Barber of Seville maintains its light and fun character in this virtuosic setting for trombones by David Rahbee, a Vienna, Austria based conductor and violinist. All the tumbling scales come forth with incredible agility with Mark Lawrence and Joe Alessi performing fantastic feats on the two alto trombones.

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809 - 1847) was himself both a pianist and violinist. He gave his first public concert at age nine. At sixteen, he wrote his famous Octet and a year later completed his Overture to Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream." Of a distinguished intellectual, artistic and banking family in Berlin, Mendelssohn grew up in a privileged environment) the family converted from Judaism to Christianity in 1816, taking the additional name 'Bartholdy'). He studied the piano, theory and composition, producing his first piece in 1820; thereafter, a profusion of sonatas, concertos, string symphonies, piano quartets and Singspiels revealed his mastery of counterpoint and form. Originally for piano, the Kindersteucke, (Children's Pieces) are arranged for trombone quartet by Professor Carl Lenthe, former solo trombonist with the Bavarian State Opera and the Bamberg Symphony, currently at Indiana University. Mr. Lenthe was inspired to arrange these pieces through his own studies on the piano. The Kindersteucke feature noteworthy first trombone solos played by Scott Hartman.

The elegance and purity of the music of J. S. Bach (1685-1750) have inspired countless transcriptions and adaptations. Four of a Kind has always played some of Bach's music in every performance and each recording. On this disc they feature two transcriptions from the solo violin repertoire. Bach's monumental chaconne has been transcribed for orchestra by Stokowski, had piano accompaniments written by Mendelssohn and Schumann and was adapted for piano, left hand alone, by Brahms. It is this left hand piano setting in the lower octave that trombonist Philip Brink used to create his dramatic arrangement for trombone quartet. The companion D minor Fugue was adapted by Canadian trombonist Pierre Beaudry.

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1691-1755) was a prolific composer and significant as an innovator. He was the first French composer to adapt the Italian name "concerto", and he composed the first French solo concerto for any instrument, a concerto for cello, viol. or bassoon, and introduced many new instrumental combinations, such as three flutes, three flutes with bass, and five flutes. Much of his music is for the flute, including works both specifically designated for this instrument, and works noted as being suitable for the flute as well as other instruments. Most of it was directed at small groups of amateur musicians, and many of his works are designated for flexible performing media; optional parts are often indicated. The Sonata a 4 was probably composed for two flutes and two lower voiced instruments. We transposed it to utilize two alto trombones on the top two voices, to provide a very interesting tone color more in keeping with what was probably the original voicing.

From 1927 till 1934, Jan Koetsier (1911- ) studied at the Musikhochschule in Berlin. He was a conductor in Lubeck and Berlin before he became assistant conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1942. In 1950 he settled in Germany. Until 1966 he was conductor of the orchestra of the Bayerische Rundfunk. He then became professor of conducting at the Musikhochschule in Munich. Koetsier's compositions have been frequently performed; the Philadelphia Orchestra played his Third Symphony in Philadelphia and New York, and Rafael Kubelik and the orchestra of the Bayerische Rundfunk premiered the Double Concerto for trumpet and trombone as well as Der Mann Lot for men's choir, baritone, recitation and orchestra. Koetsier's "Brass Symphony" was commissioned by the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and is widely performed. "Five Impromptus" is a wonderful collage that showcases the broad technical spectrum of trombones, especially the third Impromptu which highlights the use of the "glissando".

The French composer Jean-Michel Defay (1932 - ) composed the "Quatre Pieces" in 1954 when he was just 22 years old. Written in the style typical of the French "contest" pieces from the period, it features four trombones in a very virtuoso setting. There are very lush sensual movements, such as the first and third movements, which highlight the trombone's lyrical and singing qualities, and give every member of the group a chance to solo. The second movement is written to show off the technique of the instrument, and has the effect of continuous playing because of the staggered melodic lines. The first movement also utilizes straight and cup mutes, which the composer indicates are only possible in a recording situation, because of the abrupt changes from muted to open. These muted passages plus the use of straight mutes in the second movement add a nice color change to the open sound of the trombone. The "Quatre Pieces" is very demanding for all involved, and one of the staples of the trombone quartet literature.

From Bob Elkjer:
It's always a pleasure to write for "Four of a Kind" - they make my job easy. However, even with world class musicians, trombone arrangements frequently need a little coaxing and revision until they hit the mark. Well, "It's Only a Paper Moon" was not one of those arrangements! When I played the demo for Mark, his face lit up - he had that look that composers love: the look of "this arrangement will play itself". Four of a Kind makes it shine!

"God Bless the Child" was made famous by Billie Holiday, who wrote the lyrics. The music was written by Arthur Herzog Jr. This tune is a natural for trombones, with low voiced chords and soulful glissandi. The piu mosso at the bridge is passionate and inspired.

This arrangement of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is inspired by the swinging Frank Rosolino rendition. This arrangement made it onto the record by happy accident when Mark called to say they were a bit short of repertoire for the recording date. The crack of the bat and cheering crowd (at the end) can be done in live performance by the musicians clicking their tongues and going "aahhhh". But for this disc, we dubbed in the real thing. Talk about production values! -Robert Elkjer

Robert Elkjer's arrangements are available at http://home.pacbell.net/melkjer

 

 

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