Review


Lauren Bernofsky
The Devil's Dermish:
Trombone and piano

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, United States
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Date of Publication: 1994 / 2017
URL: http://www.presser.com

Score and solo part

Genre: SOLO MATERIALS

Dr. Bernofsky holds a BM in violin and composition from The Hartt School, an MM in composition from the New England Conservatory, and a DMA in composition from Boston University. She has served on the faculties of the Peabody Institute and Interlochen Center for the Arts, and has conducted and given clinics at schools, universities, and regional festivals. Her catalog of more than one hundred works includes solo, chamber and choral music, as well as large-scale works for orchestra, film, musicals, opera, and ballet. Her music has been performed across the United States, Europe, and Asia, as well as in Australia, Iceland, and South Africa. She is the recipient of numerous grants, commissions and awards, with performances in prominent venues such as Carnegie Hall. Dr. Bernofsky’s other works for trombone includes: Two Latin Dances for trombone and piano and Passacaglia for trombone quintet. The Devil’s Dermish was commissioned and premiered by Brian Diehl in 1994. There is an excellent live recording by Brian Diehl on the composer’s website: (http://www.laurenbernofsky.com/dermish.htm). There is also a fine, more recent recording by Ava Ordman on her solo album: It's About Time, Blue Griffin Records. The composer writes the following description of the work: The Devil's Dermish is a fiendishly virtuosic concert piece written for trombonist Brian Diehl. A dermish (or "drmes") is a Croatian folk dance containing dance steps which, at times, go "against the grain" of the music. The piece has two main types of music, one in the lower range of the instrument, with quick, tongued notes, and the other a "limping" waltz in 5/8 time, more scalar and legato, exploring the higher ranges and allowing for expressive use of tone color and vibrato. The cadenza-like section of the piece employs techniques such as the harmonic glissando in one slide position, and multiphonics (singing one note while playing another). The above listed recordings, more so than any written commentary, give a clear idea of the composer’s musical language and interaction of the trombone and piano parts. This is good, interesting music, affording the trombonist the opportunity to explore both the technical and lyric possibilities of the instrument, including a lengthy cadenza. It is not beyond the abilities of some of the excellent advanced conservatory/university students of this generation.

Reviewer: Karl Hinterbichler
Review Published January 31, 2019