Sonata for Trombone and Piano (2015)
duration: 21’
GRT • 179

recording available
Return Journey
Ensemble Three plays Sonatas by Stuart Greenbaum
Lyrebird Productions, LB061116
ABC Classics, digital, 2018

(2nd movement)

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
This work started with a few bars first explored at my Bernstein upright piano at home in Moonee Ponds on the 2nd of January 2015. In the following week, more ideas were sketched in Adelaide while I was a tutor at AYO National Music Camp. And an idea for the 2nd movement came to me while holidaying in Portland (on the way back from Adelaide). The opening of the 3rd movement was first thought and played at my mother’s Kawai grand piano in Brighton. So in all, the work is something of a road trip, developed and refined on computer back in Moonee Ponds over the last week of January 2015. Written at the invitation of my colleague Don Immel (Head of Brass at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music), Sonata for Trombone and Piano is the 5th in a series of sonatas undertaken in the new millennium. The premiere performance was given by Don Immel and Konrad Olszewski in Melba Hall on 6 November 2016.

“So the second disc listed above opens with the Sonata for Trombone and Piano. Whilst the jazz-infused harmonies suit the guitar, how do they fit into a work such as this? This is in the classical sonata format of three movements and is marginally the longest work recorded. He describes it as “a road trip”, as it was composed on three different pianos in three different places. Don Immel commissioned the work and he is a colleague of Greenbaum’s at the Melbourne Conservatoire. Unlike the other works it seems to have no other programme but the three movements are entitled ‘Travelling’, ‘Floating’ and ‘Energised’.

Movement 1 has a special atmosphere all of its own, with its jazz-inflected glissandi and its oriental sounding, pentatonic harmonies. In the middle movement the sun comes out onto a less austere landscape although the tempo is still on the relaxed side, even slow as the melody ‘floats’ above the trickling semi-quavers. All very evocative and beautiful. As the title of the finale implies we are now fully awake, in one might feel, a night-club. The piano part is strongly syncopated but the trombone part seems a little directionless and intermittent. But the performance surely captures everything that the composer intended.”
Gary Higginson, Music Web International, August 2018

“this is very listenable music and that laid-back approach of the composer leads to a feeling of relaxation.”
Michael Morton–Evans, Fine Music Magazine, September 2018

“Don Immel’s haunting trombone opens Stuart Greenbaum’s Sonata for Trombone and Piano. In the first movement, Travelling, Immel is playful and curious, unfolding a strong sense of narrative once Konrad Olszewski’s piano settles in. The mellow timbre of the trombone is fittingly matched to a movement title like the second, Floating before (perhaps with some irony), the concluding Energised lifts us high above the dreamlike.”
Stephanie Eslake, Limelight, September 2018