Concerto after Mendelssohn (Konzert nach Mendelssohn)

for Trombone and Wind Ensemble

  • Genre
    Solo Instrument with Wind Ensemble
  • Commissioned by/written for
    Carl Lenthe
  • Year completed
  • Year revised
  • Timing
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Concerto after Mendelssohn was written between December 10, 2016 and January 26, 2017, and orchestrated from February 20th to March 8th of 2017. Not many people know that Mendelssohn was actually intending to write a concerto for Carl Traugott Queisser, the principal trombonist in his Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Unfortunately for trombonists and music lovers, the project was never realized, and consequently I thought that it might be worthwhile to attempt to write a trombone concerto that might have borne some similarity to the one that Mendelssohn might have written. Given that I like to take a differing approach in the works I write in my "After" series, for this work, I took the short bridge movment that links the second and third movements of Mendelssohn's E Minor Violin Concerto, and expanded it into an entire movement, more or less in the style of the German master. After a near-verbatim quote of this movement, I expand and develop the thematic material along the lines of 19th-century German practice. Thus the first movement is written in modified sonata allegro form, with divergence from that form coming as the development section flows immediately out of the elaboration of the second theme in the relative major. Another novelty occurs after a short cadenza, where there is no coda, but only a reiteration of Mendelssohn's bridge movement. The second movement is in A-B-A song form, with an opening that features long lines in the solo instrument. A middle section shifts from Df Major to its parallel minor, Cs Minor, and picks up in activity and drama, with flourishes in the trombone part undergirded by dramatic gestures in the accompaniment. The movement concludes with a modified and expanded reiteration of the opening statement. The work concludes with a driving finale in modified rondo form. The movement is fast with a lot of notes, and the spirit of the movement is inspired by that found in the Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As in other "After" works in my output, I didn't concern myself too much with the places in this work that sound more like me writing in a 19th-century style than Mendelssohn, but I did make an effort to incorporate the melodic gestures and harmonic sequences normally associated with this great composer. The development section of the first movement also incorporates a good bit of counterpoint to pay homage to Mendelssohn's rediscovery of the music of Bach. The listener will also note that the key relationships of the three movements in this work exactly mirror those of Mendelssohn's E Minor Violin Concerto, albeit transposed up a semi-tone. I also sought to personalize this work for its dedicatee, and did so through the inclusion of phrases from one of the latter's favorite Bach Chorales, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme in the second movement. In the finale, there are also a couple of phrases from the famous "Wedding March" from Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream woven in at Lenthe's request as a wink to his wife Martha. The solo part of this work was edited by its dedicatee, who premiered this version of the work with conductor Stephen Pratt and the Indiana University Wind Ensemble on March 27, 2018.

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