For an ensemble made up entirely of the same instrument (three tenor trombones and one bass), their sound is incredibly rich and varied, ranging from pensive to pompous, from melancholic to jazzy. The group fully exploits the sonic landscape of the instrument, showing it to be at once mournful and cheerful.
After opening with Gummers How composed their very own Steve Jones, they wow us with a brilliant arrangement of Verdi’s Nabucco overture. There is a sort of grandeur attached to the trombone, probably as a result of their regal appearance, which has the effect of making pieces such as these even more stately sounding. The euphoric cadence is given foghorn power, such is the energy put into the final notes.
Out come the mutes for Bozza’s Trois Pièces, beginning with the sprightly ‘Allegro’ and progressing to the more pensive ‘Moderato’ whose swelling minor chords speak of impending doom, and wouldn’t sound out place as backing for a slow zoom shot on the Death Star. The mood picks up for final movement ‘Allegro Vivo’, choppy melodies making for a march-like effect.
They prove to be as eloquent in speech as they are in melody, delivering a substantial light hearted contextual spiel before each piece. We are also introduced to the pBone, ‘the world’s first plastic trombone’, Exton-McGuinness inviting the audience to ‘have a go’ at the end on their own ‘original Jiggs pBone’ of a rather violent shade of magenta.
Caravan is a highlight, and having featured in the recent critically acclaimed indie film Whiplash is probably recognised by more of the audience than before.
Putting music stands aside, the quartet closes with a beautiful rendition of Bruckner’s Locus Iste, which translates perfectly onto these instruments from its original SATB setting. The ensemble have each tutti entry practiced to precision, drawing out the final suspensions and prolonging the resolution to wondrous effect.
To order the debut album visit: http://www.trombonequartet.co.uk/cd/