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Redgum suite : for trumpet, trombone and double bass

by Elena Kats-Chernin (2000)

Work Overview

This piece was commissioned by Joe Campbell QC for the 50th birthday in January 2000 of his wife Jenny Campbell. The instruments for which it is composed were dictated by the instruments that their three sons played, and played for its first performance - James played trombone, Robert played trumpet, and David played double bass. James and David were heading for careers as professional musicians, so one of the commissioning instructions was to give fairly equal prominence to the three instruments, but "to make the trombone and bass parts as hard as you like, but go easy on the trumpet". The title of the piece comes from the name of the Campbell family home - in imitation of a commission to another piece commissioned from a Russian-speaking émigré, Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto.

It was revised for publication in 2016 - 2017.

The work is in five contrasting movements:

1. Fanfare
This movement has fanfare features, which is expected from a piece for mostly brass (two instruments out of three). This is a fanfare for the birthday lady, but has also some softer moments of reflection. The sons who played the piece were quite young men at the time and reflection was perhaps to do with contemplation about what lay ahead for them and for the family.

2. Quiet Waters
Here I was thinking that sometimes a mother would like a quiet moment to read a book or create a new dish or just spend contemplative time looking at the sea waves, thinking about things.

3. Three Trees
The three sons that are playing the piece for the birthday event are like three trees, they grow, they become strong, energetic and protective of their family, they are also playful and, while they are individual and different, they also play a lot in unison. The piece has some dance character, with its alternating metre 5/8 and 6/8.

4. Mystery
After the busy and rhythmical previous movement I felt that something minimal and sparse is needed. It starts with Col Legno Battuto notes in Double Bass and tongue slaps in Trombone, moving in single notes, creating a chord per bar of four crotchets for a first few seconds. Some longer notes start to appear with the entrance of the trumpet. The word Mystery applies to the house from which the suite takes its title, the family home called REDGUM. Where does it come from? What has the house experienced since it was built? There is a hint of ragtime around half way of the piece.

5. Backstage
This is a finale to end the piece on a theatrical note, the Double Bass rhythmic ostinato pattern is one of my favourite kinds that I employ quite often, a bass line supports/accompanies most of the piece, and the other material is built upon it. There is a sense of fun throughout this piece.

Work Details

Year: 2000

Instrumentation: Trumpet, trombone, double bass.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: 1. Fanfare -- 2. Quiet Waters -- 3. Three Trees -- 4. Mystery -- 5. Backstage.

Commission note: Commissioned by Joe Campbell QC for the 50th birthday in January 2000 of his wife Jenny Campbell.

First performance: by David Campbell, Rob Campbell, James Campbell — Jan 00.

Performances of this work

21 Dec 2019: at Five at 5 #5: Corelli’s Christmas (Joan Hammond Hall).

Jan 00: featuring David Campbell, Rob Campbell, James Campbell.

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