Triple Concerto

for 3 Trombones and Orchestra

Eric Ewazen

Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Triple Concerto for Trombones and Orchestra is gratefully dedicated to The Buffalo Philharmonic, under the direction of my dear friend, JoAnn Falletta, and to their trombone section, Jonathan Lombardo, Timothy Smith and Jeffrey Dee.

Having had the wonderful experience of hearing the orchestra?s beautiful premiere of my Percussion Concerto, Songs to the Banks of Ayr, in April of 2010, under the inspired and thrilling direction of Maestro Falletta, with the glorious performance of the solo percussion part by Evelyn Glennie, I was thrilled at the possibiity of being able to work with the BPO again! One of the joys of being a composer has been to become friends with so many great musicians and to collaborate with them on new compositions. So it was with the Triple Concerto!

I had known the extraordinary playing of Jonathan Lombardo and Jeffrey Dee when they were students at Juilliard. In fact I even accompanied Jeffrey Dee on a performance of my Rhapsody for Bass Trombone and Piano on his graduation recital. At that time, I also heard Jonathan Lombardo?s masterful performance of the Nino Rota Trombone Concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra. Subsequently hearing Timothy Smith?s beautiful and sublime playing, I knew that these were three very special musicians. When they approached me, during the rehearsals of my Percussion Concerto, about possibly writing a work for them, I immediately loved the idea. When this suggestion was made to Maestro Falletta, she was delighted with the suggestion, leading to the creation of this work, my gift to JoAnn, Jonathan, Timothy, Jeffrey and the members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Three trombones! What a sound they can possess?full of power and intensity on the one hand, and yet lovely lyricism on the other. I wanted to capture the three aspects of their musical voices: hearty, brilliant fanfares, singing, melodious lines and virtuosic complexity. The work is in a traditional three movement structure, modeled after the great 19th century concerti: a lively, energetic opening movement, a slow, expressive second movement, and a rip-roaring final movement. There is even a large fugal passage, with 3 mini-cadenzas for each of the soloists in the final movement.

The opening movement begins with a leisurely paced introduction of lavish, rich harmonies, supporting gently canonic lines in the trombones, as they soar above the orchestra, intertwining gracefully, and joining in close 3-part harmony. Energy keeps accumulating in the music, and the introduction quickly leads to a rousing and energetic Sonata-Allegro. The heart of this movement contains 3 distinct themes, a 1st theme that is all about rhythmic excitement with the orchestra and the soloists tossing the themes back and forth, a 2nd theme, filled with expansive lyrical lines, and a final theme which represents the traditional brass fanfares. The material from the 3 themes is playfully developed, traveling from key to key to key, continually gaining momentum and excitement, and culminating with a heroic recapitulation of the opening material.

The Second Movement is an In Memoriam to Scott Parkinson, the previous principal trombonist of the orchestra, whom I had the great pleasure of knowing as Juilliard student, with his cheerful, enthusiastic friendliness and his great musical gifts. When he passed away at such a young age, it was such a shock to his many friends and musical colleagues. But his memory lives on! In fact Jonathan Lombardo sits in the endowed Scott Parkinson Chair. The music for the 2nd movement is all about beauty--beginning with gentle harmonies, lyric lines, almost a prayerful beginning with the orchestra, then the trombones sounding music that is almost like a Bach Chorale. A middle section of the piece rises up, with an accumulating, swirling intensity and appassionato gestures almost crying out, but calm returns, gentleness, beauty, acceptance, and enduring beauty.

The Final movement is a celebration of virtuosity--both in the Concertino (the 3 trombones) and the Ripieno (the orchestra). In this movement I give a nod to the great Concerti Grossi of Bach--the Brandenburg Concerti, in which a group of soloists alternate musical material with the orchestra. The movement begins with a burst of energy, as the orchestra spins out sweeping melodic lines, constantly rising up, leading to the trombone ensemble?s entrance with close, imitative, canonic gestures, sometimes growling in the low register, sometimes heroically singing out in the high register, joyfully sounding the contrapuntal lines, always tossing the melodies from one to the other to the other, in a 3-way game of catch, alternating with the orchestras playful contrapuntal gestures as well. The game gets faster and faster with sudden switches and turns of harmony and gestures, all leading to a grand and expansive fugue, a joyful and dramatic reappearance of the lst movement?s opening elegant theme, a final curtain call of each of the soloists one by one, taking a final musical bow, and a heroic, joyful coda as soloist and orchestra join together in a truly grand finale.

Available on Rental

Additional Information

Composition Date 2012
Duration 00:24:00
Orchestration 3 Tbn. Soli; 3(Picc.) 2 2 2 - 4 2 0 1; Timp. 2Perc. Vib. Mar. Str.
Premiere November 16th, 17th, 18th, 2012. Jonathan Lombardo, Timothy Smith, tenor trombones, Jeffrey Dee, bass trombone, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta; Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, NY


I. Andante Sostenuto-Allegro Energico
II. Andante Affettuoso
III. Allegro Brillante

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