Review


Traditional
Ten Christmas Duets:

Arranged by Kenneth Knowles

tubas or bass trombones

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2014
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com

Genre: TROMBONE ENSEMBLES

This small collection of classical Christmas duets, originally written for two tubas, has a range one would expect. Spanning from FF to b-flat, the work lives in the meaty range of the bass trombone. Knowles demonstrates a fine awareness of musical space through skillful counterpoint and melodic interplay. The result is a depth of orchestration not at all typical of simple duet writing. The feat is even more striking when one considers the simplicity of material and the inherit challenge to preserve each melody’s individual character.

 

The performer can not only expect familiar titles, such as Jingle Bells & Silent Night but also lesser known tunes like Lo, How A Rose Ere Blooming and The Holly and the Ivy. Each small work may be performed in under one minute, making this collection of duets perfect for short performances around Christmas time. The variety, and pacing of the collection lend itself to complete performances. If played in order the duet would conclude with the most appropriate of closers: Joy to the World.

Being written for two tubas, there are some inherit issues for the bass trombonist. The first, and most obvious is the difference in sound. The arrangements are beautiful, but the interplay presumes a certain amount of breadth to the sound that isn’t quite there on a directional instrument like the bass trombone. Performers will need to compensate by playing extremely broad lest the work have too much empty space around melodic exchanges and rests. Second is the grade for this collection. Although not demanding in the upper register, this work requires a fleetness in the lower register that could only be realistically demanded of the advanced student. All things considered this is a great collection of duets appropriate for fun, practice, or even impromptu performance.

Reviewer: Joe Murrell
Review Published January 31, 2019