For those that are not familiar with the name Isabel Daws, she is the daughter of David Daws who many will remember as the former very talented principal cornet of the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army. Her father taught her to play the cornet at an early age. Later when she took up the trombone, she was taught by Maisie Ringham MBE the well-respected orchestral trombonist, who also had a background in the Salvation Army.
Isobel has performed with many British orchestras, and she now works as part of the Karajan Academy at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and is currently living in Berlin.
There are eight pieces on the disc, all apart from two, track six which is unaccompanied and the final track when she is joined by the other three members of the ‘Bona-fida’ quartet, are accompanied on the piano by Timothy End.
The opening piece, ‘A Dream of Fire’ by Dutch composer Saskia Apon is in a waltz rhythm and light hearted in style. It is a brilliant show off for the performer.
Jim Maynard wrote ‘Vistas’ especially for Isobel Daws. It is in three movements, each recalling a different outlook as seen looking over the garden through the back window of his house. The first movement, ‘Passage’ is very slow with interludes from the piano. Indeed, the whole piece seems to be for trombone and piano rather than the piano just having an accompanying role. The second movement, ‘Romance’ is reflective in style as the soloist displays some beautiful sounds and fine pianissimo playing. The final movement, ‘Skein’ alternates between active movement and smoother melodic parts as it depicts a flock of geese flying through the sky. It is mixture of movement and melody.
‘Romance’ by Edward Elgar was originally written for bassoon, is stylistically performed here on the trombone with controlled phrasing and beautiful tone.
Bryan Lynn’s ‘Doolallynastics’ is subtitled ‘A brief torture for unaccompanied trombone,’ and I would suggest it is aptly named. It contains a mixture of styles with jazzy sections, glissandos and fireworks and includes a frightening scream and hysterical laughter. An entertaining piece if not musically satisfying to all listeners.
Belgian composer Joseph Jongen’s ‘Aria et Polonaise’ is an original work for trombone. It opens with a slowish melody and despite the occasional unexpected interval it is quite pleasant. It increases tempo into the dance rhythm becoming more agile in style. I rather enjoyed this piece.
‘Les Chemins de l’amour.’ This song by Francis Poulenc is well suited for the trombone, particularly in the hands of this player with her lovely tone and portrayal of vocal lines. She displays great skill and musicality and surmounts all the challenges of the varying styles and techniques that the music demands, including the discrete use of glissando. The whole of this piece had a lovely flow to it. This is a fine example of cantabile playing.
When composer Robert Schumann wrote ‘Adagio and Allegro’ he had in mind the French horn, but he also wrote versions for the cello and violin. This arrangement for trombone and piano is by Thomas Pilsbury. In this demanding work the soloist displays a wide dynamic range and fine articulation in both the slow lyrical section and the bright tempo of the allegro. This virtuosic performance surmounts all the technical demands asked of the player. It is a real showpiece for the trombone.
For the final item Isobel Daws is joined by fellow members of the ‘Bona-fide’ trombone quartet in a light-hearted arrangement of what is probably the most well-known piece on the CD. Manuel Ponce’s ‘Estrellita.’
Credit must be given for the excellent work of pianist Timothy End. All the pieces on the disc have exacting accompanying parts and his contribution plays no small part in the successful outcome of the whole performance. Looking at his CV he has an impressive list of academic achievements and competition successes He has worked with vocalists, instrumentalists, choirs, choruses, and other musical ensembles.
This is not a collection of music that the traditional brass band enthusiastic would normally listen to and I must admit that all but two of the pieces are new to me. The soloist displays a very high standard of technique in the wide variety of styles demanded by the works on the CD. I would suggest that any student of the trombone could benefit from serious study of the techniques displayed on this disc.
1. A Dream of Fire - Saskia Apon
2 - 4. Vistas - Jim Maynard
5. Romance - Edward Elgar
6. Doolallynastics - Brian Lynn
7. Aria et Polonaise - Joseph Jongen
8. Les Chemins de L'amour - Francis Poulenc
9. Adagio and Allegro - Robert Schumann arr. Thomas Pilsbury
10. Estrellita - Manuel Ponce