Igor Stravinsky
Round of the Princesses from “Firebird” :

Arranged by Randall Malmstrom

Eight trombones

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2014

Score and parts


The ballet music of Igor Stravinsky is often remembered for its vigorous, wild, rhythmically active passages. However, Stravinsky wrote a great deal of lyric music, and much of it is quite beautiful. A prime example is the Round of the Princesses from The Firebird. This movement is full of beautiful solos passed around among numerous instruments in the original score. The overall effect is often ethereal and quite graceful.

Arranging a full orchestral score for a smaller ensemble is always a daunting challenge. Here Randall Malmstrom has made solid choices in how to capture the sound palate of Stravinsky’s original work in an arrangement for trombone octet. The score is laid out in four-part groups—trombones 1, 2, and 3 are grouped with bass trombone 1, while trombones 4, 5, and 6 are matched with bass trombone 2—and it will help to set the group up this way on stage. The spatial groupings and alternation of left and right sounds Malmstrom provides is perhaps as close as a group of like instruments will get to Stravinsky’s alternation between different solo instrument sounds in the original score involving oboe, bassoon, clarinet, etc. The brief harp arpeggios present at key moments of the original are set into the bass trombone parts and require a delicate touch from the performers. The melodies and counter-melodies are liberally sprinkled throughout the parts, giving most of the ensemble a chance to be featured. The first trombone part especially requires a player with a solid high range and command of lyricism in that range.

This beautiful work provides a nice change of pace on a reasonably advanced trombone ensemble program. Randall Malmstrom’s arrangement makes good use of trombone ensemble sound while staying as true to Stravinsky’s original as is possible.

Reviewer: Chad Arnow
Review Published April 2, 2019