Carl Nielsen
Extracts from Symphony No.4: for Trombone Ensemble

Arranged by Randall Malmstrom

Trombone septet: 7 trombones: 5 tenor, 2 bass trombones

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2021

Score and parts.


Randall Malmstrom’s recasting of Carl Nielson’s fourth symphony for trombone ensemble is a superb arrangement for the advanced ensemble. Donated for review by Cherry Classics, Malmstrom distills The Inextinguishable’s 1,174 measures into an abridged 177 measures, presenting a masterful adaptation of trombone orchestral excerpt solo and sectional passage. The recasting of significant brass, woodwind, and string writing has been done with thoughtful orchestration to encapsulate these textures for the trombones. Arranged for seven parts, the two bass trombone parts include active melodic passage work in the lower register, descending to pedal F-sharp and pedal E, respectively. The Trombone 1 part spans multiple high c²s and a high d², while the second trombone part plays extended orchestral soli materials paired with other voices. Malstrom employs paired voices with great effect, showcasing some of Nielsen’s chamber ensemble textures within this larger soundscape. Although Malstrom highlights the musical forces of the second half of The Inextinguishable, we still get to experience the richness of this repertoire pushing the limits of tonality (progressive tonality) with lush orchestral forces. As part of this adaptation, Malstrom includes a wealth of rehearsal and style tempo markings, including suggested beats per minute tempi that differ from the original, but they are musically informed and work well. For the conductor and performers of this arrangement, I recommend consulting full orchestral scores and the synthesized audio sample provided on the Cherry Classics website to help inform style and tempo, especially for parts of the symphony not found in your orchestral excerpts collection. As an example, in measure 56, Malmstrom indicates the dotted half-note at 66, but measure 681 of the score Nielsen is a little more direct, indicating to conduct this passage in one (Battuta in uno).

Although known for his orchestral career as second violinist of the Royal Danish Orchestra, Nielsen’s first professional service was that of a valved alto trombonist for the Danish army at the tender age of 14. It is no surprise that his symphonic works include wonderful writing for the trombone reflecting both the Late Romantic’s increased use of solo and sectional trombone writing, his lived experience as a brass musician. Originally published in 1916 by the Danish Wilhelm Hansen Edition, it carried the multi-lingual titles of Det Uudslukkelige (Danish), Das Unauslüschlieche (German), L’inestinguibile (Italian), and The Inextinguible, a misnomer that would be corrected in subsequent editions. For those wishing to consult an open-access urtext edition, the 2000 Carl Nielsen Udgaven (Edition) of the Royal Library of Copenhagen is hosted by the Canadian-based International Music Score Library Project and includes a wonderful preface by Claus Røllum-Larsen that will inform your preparation of concert program notes. Malmstrom has forged an impressive arrangement of The Inextinguishable and I look forward to hearing this work performed at a future regional or International Trombone Festival concert.

Reviewer: Peter Fielding
Review Published January 2, 2022