SOUND & RESOUND is a project I have had the extreme pleasure of creating with these gifted musicians. The combination of trombone and organ has created a grandeur of sound since its origin during the Renaissance. The development of both instruments over the centuries continues to inspire composers and listeners alike, as evidenced by the wealth and gravitas of works that continue to emerge for this musical paring. This album showcases music written for or adapted for trombone(s) and organ - via solo pieces and ensemble works - and spans a broad range of musical styles. It begins with the kaleidoscopic sonorities of Charles Ives' short processional for quartet and organ, Let There Be Light. The next work hails from the standard repertoire, Guilmant's Morceau Symphonique, one of the many selections which features acclaimed organist Amanda R. Mole. Benedykt Konowalski's Ecumenical Triptych is an unaccompanied work in three movements, each portraying the melodic flavor of its associated religious tradition. Franz Lizst's powerful Hosannah, for bass trombone and organ, is followed by a work for quartet alone, Peter Schickele's tongue-in-cheek nod to Wagnerian themes, Last Tango in Bayreuth. My arrangement of Fauré's beautiful Cantique de Jean Racine is in sharp contrast to the next selection, Alfred Schnittke's equally sublime and raucous work, Schall und Hall. A wonderful Neo-romantic work by Ernst Schiffmann, Intermezzo, shows the breadth of both instruments' power and lyricism. The album culminates with a triumphant tour-de-force, Zsolt Gárdonyi's Fantasy on a Hungarian Song of Thanks, for four trombones and organ.
Processional: Let There Be Light
This short piece for four trombones and organ was composed in 1901 by Charles Ives (1874 – 1954) while he served as organist at Central Presbyterian Church in New York. The piece’s inspiration was a text by Rev. John Ellerton: “This is the Day of Light: Let there be Light Today,” a gloss on the creation story from the book of Genesis. Opening with widely spaced octaves, a majestic theme emerges but quickly turns to chromaticism and complex harmonies. Brilliant tone clusters escalate toward the climax of the opening section, then resolve back to octaves before a short organ interlude anticipates the repeat of the material, this time rendered at twice the speed of its original setting. The breadth of Ives’ dissonances against the clear, stacked octaves would seem to portray the emergence of light from darkness.
Morceau Symphonique for Tenor Trombone and Organ, op. 88
French organist and composer Alexandre Guilmant (1837 - 1911) helped found the Schola Cantorum de Paris and served as Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire. Guilmant devoted nearly all of his compositional efforts toward works for organ or choir, making Morceau Symphonique somewhat unique among his oeuvre. Originally conceived with piano accompaniment, this familiar work is beautifully wrapped in rich harmonies and evocative melodies, showcasing Guilmant’s skill at creating a majestic work for an instrument other than his own. This fine arrangement for organ and trombone is by organist Klemens Schnorr.
Ecumenical Triptych for Trombone Solo
After performing a recital in Krakow, Poland, John Marcellus was presented this score by Warsaw-based conductor and composer, Benedykt Konowalski (b. 1928), who had attended the performance. Konowalski’s prolific output encompasses many genres and includes several other pieces for trombone. This piece was written for Juliusz Pietrachowicz, former Solo Trombonist of the Warsaw National Philharmonic (who also premièred Serocki’s Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra). Marcellus gave Ecumenical Tryptich its American premiere at the Eastman School of Music in 1997. The work is written for unaccompanied trombone in three movements, each employing the distinctive melodic characteristics of its associated religious tradition: a Gregorian chant, a Judaic incantation, and a hymn-like chant from the Orthodox church.
Hosannah for Bass Trombone and Organ
Written by Franz Liszt (1811-1886), this piece is based on the chorale melody "Heilig ist Gott der Vater” (Track 6), which is attributed to a monastic order from Braunschweig, Germany, around 1543. Liszt first describes the work as a “concertante for trombone and organ,” while subsequent references find him referring to it as, “Hosannah! Chorale for Organ and Trombone (ad libitum).” The work was composed in 1862, by which time Liszt had withdrawn to Rome, seeking sanctuary and calm after the devastating loss of two of his children and the disgrace of his numerous romantic affairs. He rented quarters in a monastery and went so far as to join a Franciscan order in an attempt to live a more introspective life. Most of Liszt’s work during this period was sacred in nature, of which Hosannah is a unique example. It is dedicated to Eduard Grosse, a trombonist and double bassist from Weimar, as a type of “Sonntags-Posaunenstück” (lit. “Sunday trombone piece”). The bulk of the piece is characterized by powerful harmonic sequences and flourishes in the organ, with the bass trombone reinforcing the pedal line. Only in the work's middle section does the trombone proclaim the hymn melody itself.
Last Tango In Bayreuth
Composer, performer, author, teacher, satirist, and radio host Peter Schickele (b. 1935) has contributed uniquely to classical music and its culture. In addition to an oeuvre of satirical works under the guise of his alter-ego, P.D.Q. Bach, Schickele has also contributed over 100 orchestral, choral, chamber, vocal, and commercial works to his catalogue. Last Tango in Bayreuth, originally written for bassoonist Harry Searing and scored for bassoon quartet, received its premier at the Manhattan School of Music in 1973. Mr. Schickele and his publisher have graciously allowed me to adapt this work for four trombones. He conceived this riff on Wagnerian themes after his manner of entertaining from the piano at parties. The work opens with the famous “Tristan chord” passage, then breaks into themes from Lohengrin, while being continually nuanced by an ostinato in tango rhythm.
Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11
Gabriel Fauré (1845 – 1924) composed this piece for mixed choir and piano or organ on Racine’s French paraphrase of Consors paterni luminis, a Latin hymn for Matins. The text invokes the purging power of mercy’s flame and its ability to counter the flames of hell. Fauré was nineteen years old when he entered the piece in a competition at the École Niedermeyer de Paris and won first prize. Already in this early work we hear his fresh approach to harmony and his tremendous melodic gift. Lyricism would remain a strength in Fauré’s compositions, even as he began to push the common boundaries of harmonic theory in the coming years. Cantique was first performed in 1866 in a version for strings and organ (played by the composer) and was dedicated to the premiere’s conductor, César Franck. This arrangement by Lisa Albrecht retains the lyrical qualities of the original choral part.
Schall und Hall
Postmodernist composer Alfred Schnittke (1934 – 1998) conceived this atmospheric piece specifically for a church acoustic. Often translated as “Sound and Resound,” the work is a haunting landscape, beginning as a spare, meditative dialogue between organ and trombone. Long sequences of repeated octaves and slowly oscillating textures are contrasted with plaintive outcries, muted passages, and multiphonics, all giving way to wildly dramatic — even chaotic — cadenzas. Schnittke’s striking contrasts of texture and sonority create a truly unique journey for the listener.
Intermezzo for Trombone and Organ in A-flat, op. 53
Munich-born composer Ernst Schiffmann (1901-1980) composed his Neo-romantic Intermezzo in 1954. We are fortunate that the work survives, as Schiffmann had destroyed nearly all of his works by the mid-1950’s, when he devoted himself to a “mystical” lifestyle. The thematic material juxtaposes long, lyrical passages with strong, rhythmical fanfares of near-symphonic impact. These themes alternate in pairs, building to a powerful climax, before receding to an introspective ending. The trombone and organ are equally showcased in this powerful work.
Fantasie über ein ungarisches Danklied für vier Posaunen und konzertierende Orgel (Fantasy on a Hungarian Song of Thanks for four trombones and solo concert organ)
Renowned Hungarian-German composer, music theorist, and organist Zsolt Gárdonyi (b. 1946) has been recognized for his contributions in the field of church music, as well as for his work as a performer and teacher. Gárdonyi based his Fantasie on a 16th-century melody, still preserved in the hymnals of the Protestant Church in Hungary, that remains one of the most beloved songs of praise in that tradition. The hymn’s text is a song of thanksgiving, expressing gratitude to and trust in God. Gárdonyi was a young man when this melody first inspired him to create two distinct settings – one for choir and organ, another for brass and organ. This third treatment, from 1987, presents an instrumental dialogue between the virtuosic organ part and the trombone quartet. Alternating between chorale-like textures and quasi-improvisatory interludes, it then culminates in an exhilarating and triumphant statement of the hymn tune. The work received its premiere in 1988 at the Lutherkirche in Wiesbaden. In July of 2014, the Hohenfels Trombone Quartet presented the Fantasie in collaboration with organist Stefan Schmidt at the Würzburg Cathedral (Germany) with the composer in attendance.
Notes by Lisa Albrecht
(edited by Kristina Boerger)
Lisa Albrecht was appointed Second Trombone of the Rochester Philharmonic in 2009. She previously held positions in the San Antonio Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. Ms. Albrecht has also performed with numerous other orchestras, among them the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival, Seattle Symphony, Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, London Sinfonietta, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Since 2007 she has served as Principal Trombone of Opera Saratoga. As a soloist, Lisa has appeared in recital at conferences and universities throughout the US and Europe. She has toured with several chamber groups, including Burning River Brass and Summit Brass Ensemble. Her work as a free lance artist in New York City spanned from Broadway to studio sessions, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center.
Originally from Phelps, New York, Lisa earned a Bachelor of Music degree with Distinction from the Eastman School of Music as a student of John Marcellus. Her formative teachers also include George Osborn, James Desano, Arnold Jacobs, and Alan Bomwell.
Amanda R. Mole is one of the leading concert organists of her generation and the winner of numerous international competitions, including First Prizes at the 8th International Musashino-Tokyo Organ Competition, the Miami International Organ Competition (with Audience Prize), the Arthur Poister Organ Competition, and the John Rodland Memorial Organ Competition. She is also a grateful recipient of the Peter B. Knock Award (2014). In 2016, she was chosen as one of The Diapason magazine's Top 20 Under 30 and she has served as a juror for several organ competitions. Amanda has performed internationally at venues across the USA, Europe, and Japan. In 2019, she released a recording with Naxos.
Originally from Holden, Massachusetts, Ms. Mole is completing a DMA as a student of David Higgs at the Eastman School of Music. She earned her MM from Yale University where she studied with Martin Jean, and she obtained a BM with honors at Eastman as a student of William Porter. Earlier studies were with Larry Schipull and Patricia Snyder. Amanda is represented in North America by Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc.
Founded in 2011 by Lisa Albrecht, Heather Buchman, Ben David Aronson and Matthew Halbert, the Hohenfels Trombone Quartet has performed extensively throughout the Northeast. In 2014 they toured Germany and Austria as cultural ambassadors to Rochester’s (NY) International Sister City of Würzburg, Germany, featuring collaborations with organists and composers. HTQ also presents recitals and master classes at colleges and public schools, enriching young performers with their versatile presentations.
Assistant Organists (Ives): Thatcher Lyman and Jacob Taylor
Recording Engineer: Michael Sherman
Producer: Lisa Albrecht
Assistant Producers: Heather Buchman, Jacob Taylor, and Wesley Nance
Editors: Michael Sherman, Lisa Albrecht, and Amanda R. Mole
Portrait Photographer: Gerry Szymanski
Graphic Design and Additional Photography: Lisa Albrecht
Recorded May & June, 2018 at Saint Anne Church, Rochester, NY
Thanks to Zsolt Gárdonyi, Benedykt Konowalski, Izabela Zymer, Peter Schickele, Gregory Purnhagen, Carol De Filippo, Brad Thomas, and Bill Meckley.