Living on the Edge

Trombone Unit Hannover

Trombones: Frederic Belli, Mateusz Duwlecki, Karol Gajda, Lars Karlin, Angelos Kritikos, Tomer Maschwkowski, Tobias Schiessler, Mateusz Sczendzina, Michael Zühl & Yuval Wolfson.

Percussion: Martin Hennecke, Dominik Minsch & Johannes Walter.

Genuin Classics 1781 (Naxos of America, 1810 Columbia Ave., Ste.28, Franklin, TN 37064, USA;

Georg Friedrich Händel / Lars Karlin: Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351.

Sergei Porkofiev / Lars Karlin: Suite from the Ballet ”Romeo and Juliet” op.64.

Modest Mussorgsky / Lars Karlin: Pictures at an Exhibition.

“Living on the Edge” is the second album by this German ensemble released on the Genuin label. The outer limits of the trombone are out to test here with arrangements of three masterpiece works. As suggested by the title, the musical and technical demands are very close to the edge of what is possible for the instrument. Each work was arranged for the Trombone Unit Hannover by Lars Karlin and each is very close to the original with little material omitted. One might wonder how these pieces could have been written for anything else other than eight trombone players. This CD also marks the ten-year anniversary for Trombone Unit Hannover. Karlin states that this ensemble has learned how to adapt quickly to his ideas and style of writing.

The Händel Music for the Royal Fireworks is a display of true regal brilliance. A high level of clarity is executed throughout with a lightness that is not usually associated with this type of ensemble. Several passages of multiple tonguing are passed back and forth seamlessly and then answered with a sensitive ornamented theme. It is admirable that this piece of early orchestral music can be represented so authentically with this instrumentation. Listeners will appreciate characteristics from polar ends of the spectrum on the suite from Romeo and Juliet.

“Dances of the Knights” can be summed up by sheer power of great magnitude, while the “Young Juliet” resembles an Italian caccia. The latter arrangement makes creative use of counterpoint. “Juliet’s Funeral” features incredibly loud dissonant clusters creating an ominous effect. The ensemble should be applauded for keeping intact an impressive ensemble sound (which is also balanced) at such high volumes. “The Promenade” from Pictures at an Exhibition is arranged in the original key as played by the trumpets resulting in stratospheric trombone playing. The use of mutes in the second “Promenade” creates an unexpected color not yet heard. “The Old Castle” is one the more extensive movements and provides imagery of mystique. The famous solo on “Bydlo” is noble as expected and is performed seamlessly on both statements. Once again, amazing power is on display in the striking sonorities written in “Catacombs”, reminding the listener of such moments earlier in the disc in the Prokofiev. The driving force behind “Baba-Yaga” is certainly aided by the percussion in this arrangement. However, equally impressive to this aggressive nature is the ethereal effects written throughout in what seems like unconventional writing, but is actually masterfully arranged and executed by the performers. There is no better way to wrap up a disc than the warmth and beauty of sound on “The Great Gate of Kiev”. The Trombone Unit Hannover definitely delivers what the listener expects to hear on Mussorgsky’s monumental finale.

“Living on the Edge” is an album representing a model trombone ensemble sound with virtuosic flurries never before thought possible on the instrument. A tremendous job well done by the performers and arranger Lars Karlin.”

– Nathan Dishman, Iowa State University

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