Thursday 5 October 2017

Borrowed repertoire & after-dinner cheese: trombonist Peter Moore at Wigmore Hall

Peter Moore (photo Kaupo Kikkas)
Peter Moore (photo Kaupo Kikkas)
Beethoven, Mahler, Faure, Gaubert, Jack White, Sulek; Peter Moore, Richard Uttley; Wigmore Hall
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Oct 3 2017 Star rating: 4.5
London premiere of Jack White's new trombone piece as part of an imaginative recital from this talented young trombonist

To create a balanced recital programme for an instrument like a trombone can be a challenge, and for his Wigmore Hall recital under the auspices of the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) the young trombonist Peter Moore, with Richard Uttley piano, showed admirable skill in begging, borrowing and stealing repertoire. So we had appropriated classical pieces, Beethoven's Horn Sonata, Op.17, song transcriptions, Gustav Mahler's Urlicht and Gabriel Faure's Apres un Reve, repertoire unknown to non-trombonists, Philippe Gaubert's Morceau Symphonique and Stjepan Sulek's Sonata 'Vox Gabrieli', and a brand new piece, Jack White's Three After-Dinner Pieces which was commissioned with the support of London Music Masters and which Moore and Uttley premiere last week in Bristol (see my interview with Jack White).

Beethoven's sonata started off with Peter Moore showing some fine, full-frontal tone in the opening gesture before showing off his extremely fine legato phrasing. Playing with a nicely rounded tone, Moore impressed with the way he created the classical shape of the piece, disguising the moments which were clearly quite taxing on the trombone. The second movement was finely lyrical with a nice sense of flow to the final one, plus of course the requisite spectacular bits.

In both the Mahler and the Faure transcriptions, Moore was able to show off his lovely singing line, and shapely phrasing, plus giving us a fine range of colours.

The Morceau Symphonique by Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941) dates from 1912; the composer was a prominent French flautist who also wrote music for other wind instruments. It is an intentionally challenging work, showing off a number of trombone techniques but was also clearly influenced by the advances in harmony happening around the composer. So the structure of a romantic salon showpiece combined with some interesting harmonies and darkly sombre moments.

Jack White's Three After-Dinner Pieces was written specifically for Peter Moore, and White took as his inspiration three different cheese types (as a result of working part-time in a cheese shop, see my interview), 'Stilton', 'Caerphilly', 'Epoisses'. So in 'Stilton' we had fanfare gestures spreading between trombone and piano, as imaginary counterparts to the mould spreading through the cheese. Often the piano pedal was kept down, adding an interesting sonic glow, and highlighting White's quirky harmonies. The second movement 'Caerphilly' was lyrical with folk-ish hints in the trombone, supported by a piano part where Richard Uttley placed individual notes or chords, always with the pedal down. This created a nice contrast between the lyricism of the trombone and the sonic texture of the piano,  and, this being a Welsh cheese, the occasional harp gesture creeping in. Finally 'Epoisse', a runny cheese which inspired music with had lots of slides in it (something the trombone does well), and given a characterful chromatic context. These were three extremely engaging and very effective pieces. They showed of Peter Moore's technique admirably, but also a nice touch of wit,

Finally, we heard Sonata 'Vox Gabrieli' written in 1973 by the Croatian composer, Stjepan Sulek (1914-1986) who is evidently well known amongst brass players. It is rather a neo-Romantic piece, opening with lyrical trombone writing over cascades of piano notes, but then the piece moves through a wide variety of moods complete with plenty of showy, technically difficult passages, to contrast with the more lyrical ones, ending with a big Romantic finish. A nice showpiece to end the concert.

We were treated to an encore, though it was not announced what it was; it seems to have been an operatic fantasy with some lovely showy sections plus nice farty notes as well.

Throughout, Richard Uttley provided strong support on the piano, providing fine partnering and coping with a variety of technical demands with complete aplomb.

With such skilled and poised performing, it is difficult to remember that Peter Moore is young, he turns just 21 next month. He was the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Musician and was appointed co-principal trombone of the London Symphony Orchestra at the age of 18. He played all but the Gaubert and the Jack White from memory, and had a fine way of making us get beyond the sheer bravura of playing the music on the trombone, with all those arm movements, to consider the music beneath. And Jack White's new piece for him sounds an admirable addition to the repertoire.

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