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Schwertsik: new trombone concerto in Minneapolis

(May 2002)

Kurt Schwertsik’s new trombone concerto may bear the title Mixed Feelings, but there was no ambivalence about the piece at its premiere in Minneapolis in January, described by the Star Tribune as "an unqualified success". The concerto was commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra for its principal trombonist R. Douglas Wright and conducted by Jun Märkl, as part of the orchestra’s centennial celebrations. Beyond his two works for violin and orchestra, Schwertsik has often turned to the less-often-spotlit solo instruments for his concertos, whether timpani, guitar, double bass or even alphorn. His trombone concerto, similarly, is a character study of the instrument, calling for legato, staccato, sudden agility, and the essential ability to get into party mood at the end of the evening.

"The title suggests ambiguity and a hint of wit… [Schwertsik] writes of the trombone’s distant voice in the morning mist, and indeed, there is a feeling of open space in the first movement, an aura of mountaintops, with brief statements from the muted trombone. And the finale is definitely a party, a dance with Latin and jazz elements playing off a steady pulse in the lower strings. But there’s also a hint of the ominous in the inner movements, a tone in the orchestra about which the trombone has definitely mixed feelings – sometimes challenging the orchestra, other times running from it. Although Schwertsik acknowledges the power of the trombone, his writing here is full of little subtleties, grace notes and glissandos." Minneapolis Star Tribune

> Further information on Work: Mixed Feelings

Schwertsik photo: Sarah Ainslie

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Featured Composer

Leonard Bernstein

American composer who combined classical and jazz in works like West Side Story and On the Town

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