Don’t judge this disc by its cover. The artwork is the usual moody monochrome of a young soloist in a vaguely industrial setting – so far, so contemporary. But the contents are something else entirely: music chosen by Peter Moore because, he says, it ‘feels special to me’ and which, taken together, portrays a young trombonist with a deeply romantic soul. There’s something disarmingly likeable about an artist who feels as warmly about, say, Thoughts of Love – a sugar-coated concert waltz by Arthur Pryor, formerly of Sousa’s band – as he does about Mahler’s ‘Urlicht’, and who plays both with such genuine sympathy.
Moore is helped at every stage of the way by his duet partner, James Baillieu – who supports him with the same sensitivity to mood and colour that he brings to Lieder. And this is a real partnership: the way Baillieu teases gently at the piano part of the slow movement from Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata, or generates a hushed, pregnant space at the opening of Brahms’s Op 121 songs, very audibly gives Moore something to work with and helps shape the direction of his long, carefully phrased lines.
The Brahms, Bruch and Mahler transcriptions, with their prevailingly sombre atmosphere, perhaps convince more fully than Schumann’s more mercurial Fantasiestücke – though Moore and Baillieu find something distinctive to say in everything here. I hope Moore will take it as the compliment that’s intended when I say that his pianissimo tone in the Schumann is reminiscent of a horn. And that the two ‘lollipops’ – the Pryor and the amusingly jaunty Concerto by Friedebald Gräfe – have just as much character, providing enjoyable contrast in a predominantly serious (though always beautiful) recital.