Gramophone: Editor's Choice.
The big, powerful trombone of our time is a creature of wide open spaces and large auditoriums. ‘Trombone’ simply means ‘big trumpet’ and the two are nowadays seen as obvious bedfellows. Not so in the 17th century! The instrument was called sackbut – a soft sounding, gentle thing whose natural partners were the viola and recorder: in 1666, the British scholar William Dugdale contrasted the ‘couragious blast of deadly war’ produced by trumpeters with the ‘sweet harmony of violins, sackbutts, recorders and cornetts’. The sackbuts were much smaller than today’s trombones, with tiny mouthpieces, tubes narrower than the ones on a modern trumpet, and bells that a man’s hand might easily cover. Compared to the modern trombone, it was far easier to crack a note, but as compensation you could add inflections and ornaments with a much greater grace and range. Christian Lindberg, who has done more than anyone to establish the modern trombone as a solo instrument, bought his first sackbut 30 years ago, and already then dreamed of recording a baroque programme. Now the opportunity to do so has arrived – largely due to Lindberg’s encounter with the violinist Richard Tognetti and his Australian Chamber Orchestra. The Lindberg / ACO collaboration has already been documented on disc in a programme of 18th-century trombone concertos (BIS-CD-1248), a release described in International Record Review as ‘sensational … one of those recordings which make criticism a glorious irrelevance.’ On this recording Lindberg and a handful of the ACO players in ‘sweet harmony’ present a programme including sonatas and canzonas by Biber, Frescobaldi and Dario Castello.