Borletti-Buitoni Trust
23 April 2008

Two new trombone CDs

by Jörgen van Rijen

A big part of my BBT Award budget will be used to realise two new CD’s. The first of those, named ‘Sackbutt’, will be released next week. It is a combination of baroque sonatas with a very prominent trombone part and three early classical trombone concertos, all played on a sackbutt, a replica of an old trombone.

In the beginning of 2007, I made a concert tour with this music with the early music group Combattimento Consort Amsterdam. We got along very well and the music was so great that we all thought we should record it. Miraculously we found a week in October last year in which the ensemble, the record label, myself and a beautiful church in Amsterdam were available, so with the help of the BBT we decided to make the recording then. I am extremely happy I had the opportunity to make this CD with this fantastic ensemble. They are not only great players, but also very positive and pleasant to work with, with a very fresh, musical approach to early music. A lot of the music on this CD is rather unknown, even though the baroque was a great period for the trombone. In that time the trombone was the only brass instrument that could play chromatically all the notes. Trumpets and horns could only play overtones in one key. That made the trombone the ideal brass instrument to combine with violins and others in these baroque sonatas. Hopefully more people will recognise the possibilities of the trombone and the great music written for it through this recording.

The past few weeks were quite busy, because we had to finish the CD. Jared Sacks and Hein Dekker of my record label Channel Classics, made a first version to start with. After that I listened to it as well as Jan Willem de Vriend, the leader of Combattimento Consort. The first impression was very positive, although as a musician it is always difficult to listen to yourself, you always hear small things you would have preferred differently. A lot of these small things could be changed and improved and after a few sessions of listening and editing, the master tape was ready. Then we had to make the booklet. I could never imagine how difficult it could be to find out the exact original titles and details of all the pieces. After a few days of puzzling and googling, I managed to make the track list with all the details. Music journalist Katje Reichenfeld wrote the liner notes and after that the booklet could be made. After a few rounds of corrections, everything went to the factory last week. All of this had to be done in a period that I was constantly on tour, first in Switzerland and after that in Spain and Ukraine. In every hotel I received another mail with the latest version of the text or with mp3’s of the latest edits to check it and to send my comments back. This made things extra complicated, but finally everything is done and now I am very curious for the first box of cd’s that will arrive in a few days!

There will be another CD later this year, called ‘I was like wow’, with totally different repertoire. Dutch composer Jacob ter Veldhuis wrote the piece ‘I was like wow’ for me. When I first saw the piece and the title, I thought it would be a happy piece, but it is the opposite. It is a piece for trombone and tape based on a television documentary about the war in Iraq. During the piece you hear American soldiers from the documentary explaining how they got injured during the war and what they experienced in Iraq. At some point one of them says: ‘When I realised I just got blew up by about 20 mines, I was like wow.’

Filmmaker Jan Willem Looze, who is a good friend of the composer, made a film with the piece, like a video clip, with shots of the original television documentary, combined with shots of our recording session. This film will be on the CD as well as a video file.

For the rest of the cd, I took ‘I was like wow’ literally: I chose pieces that I think are in one way or the other ‘wow’. This varies from an unknown Mozart aria, original for trombone, to some pieces with piano accompaniment and some new solo pieces written for me. Except the Mozart aria, I play this entire recording on my modern instrument. I chose an extreme mixture of styles. Trombone is still quite unknown as a solo instrument and in this way I hope people can hear as many different sides of the beautiful instrument trombone and hopefully find the trombone ‘wow’ as well.

All pieces for this CD have been recorded now. We will need the coming few months to finish the editing and the booklet and probably after the summer it will be released. The film for the piece ‘I was like wow’ will be ready next week and a shorter version of it will be released on youtube soon, as a preview for the cd.

The last part of my BBT Award budget will be used for the commission of a new trombone concerto. It is really fantastic to have the opportunity to work on this kind of projects and I really want to thank the BBT for its support, not only financially, but in every possible way. Without the BBT it would be much more difficult to realise these kind of things!!!!

Jörgen van Rijen
Amsterdam, 22 April 2008

‘I was like wow’ preview on YouTube

BBT film about Jörgen van Rijen