Sackbutt - Trombone in the 17th & 18tth Century
Jörgen van Rijen is the principal trombonist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, but has long been fascinated by early instruments. On this disc he uses replicas of “old sackbuts” to explore repertoire stretching from early Baroque to early Classical. Such crossing between “early music” and the use of modern instruments is typical of the Combattimento Consort, whose lithe playing gives Rijen ideal support.
The agility of his playing in the finale of Albrechtsberger’s Concerto is impressive, and the orchestra’s playing is superbly alert and graceful. Running at just under an hour of undiluted old trombones, potential monotony is intelligently avoided by larger Classical concertos being interspersed with smaller scale early Italian Baroque sonatas. In fact, two impressive sonatas in three parts (trombone and two violins, plus basso continuo) by Antonio Bertali (1605-69) are perhaps the finest and most striking music on offer, with an appealing liveliness, communicative sonority and zesty personality. Likewise, a sonata by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1623-80) is rich in rhetorical inquiry, and requires a much mellower tone from Rijen than the typically festive atmosphere of Leopold Mozart’s Concerto (although Mozart Senior’s central Adagio has some touching moments). Fans of the trombone will no doubt find this of interest, but the music turns out to be far more worthwhile and rewarding than just a sackbut showcase.