Edvard Grieg
Aase's Death: from Peer Gynt Suite

Arranged by Edward Hayes & Frank Harmantas

Four tenor, one bass trombone

Vancouver, BC, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2018

Score and parts

Primary Genre: Trombone Ensembles - 5 trombones

In 1867, Henrik Ibsen approached Grieg to set music to his play Peer Gynt. From the original 90 minutes of music, two suites were arranged. This musical depiction of the protagonist’s mother’s death is lush and haunting and lends itself to the trombone choir quite well.

Originally written in b minor for string ensemble, this 45-measure arrangement has been transposed down to a minor. Despite the range differences between the two ensembles, melodic integrity has been maintained. Although a misprint (dynamics) exists in measure 16, this version has also kept the original phrase, articulation, and dynamic markings. The first part is by far the most taxing, spending most of the time above the bass clef staff (in tenor clef) and twice ascends to d2. The third part is occasionally scored in tenor clef and contains difficult leaps. Helpful extra rehearsal markings have been added.

In compressing the full range of the string ensemble, removal of octave doubling at louder moments and some chord inversion decisions adversely affect the sonority. The bass part is the most problematic with octave adjustments that affect voice leading and overall timbre. A simple internet search finds a YouTube recording of a synthesized version for eight trombones by Randall Malmstrom that retains both the integrity of the bass line and the original b minor key.

This music looks deceptively easy. Careful intonation, long sustained sounds, endurance in the upper register, sensitive dynamic control in all registers, and unison movement at a slow tempo combine to make this a challenging work. It is emotional music and requires sensitive maturity to achieve its full effect.

Reviewer: David Stern
Review Published June 18, 2023