The single-movement work is, as the title implies, inspired by both, the tranquillity and otherworldiness of night-time, sleeping and dreams. Listening to previous recordings of the Triton Trombone Quartet, I was immediately struck by their homogeneity and beauty of sound, the power that four trombones have at their disposal, and, perhaps most surprisingly, by the sense of intimacy and delicacy that can be achieved by this combination of instruments.
The piece begins with nothing more than the outline of a harmonic scheme in the outer voices, points on a curve that are occasionally punctuated by a short repeated glissando motif that becomes a major signpost along this journey. The inner voices tentatively add a distant chorale to this framework. As this chorale aspect starts to take precedence over the pointillist motifs of the opening, the shape of the music changes into something more jagged, less consolatory. These contrasting aspects of night, a time when we often reach our highest levels of not only piece but also passion and vulnerability, continue to play out their conflict, tumbling at its peak by way of the glissando motif.
We are then led back into a lugubrious night-time world, that, while quietened, is by no means at peace.
Commissioned by the Triton Trombone Quartet fort he 1998 CD project "Triton’s Journey" for the Swedish label BIS, Night’s Journey was also first performed by the quartet at the 111th anniversary celebrations of the Eckhardtsheimer Trombone choir in the Eckhardtskirche, Bielefeld on 4th October 1997.
© Brett Dean
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer