Trombone Concerto by Todd Goodman: A Review

By Peter Fielding • May 13, 2021 • 2 min read

Trombone Concerto coverGoodman, Todd. Trombone Concerto. Edited by Kevin McManus and Tom Glovier. Wrong Note Media, Midland, PA, 2010. Score (piano reduction) and trombone part.

Dr. Todd Goodman is an active composer who has penned two trombone concertos and a tuba concerto. His first trombone concerto was commissioned and premiered by Kevin McManus with pianist Tom Glovier. This work won the British Trombone Society's 2011-2012 Concerto Composition Competition. The piano reduction was donated for review by Wrong Note Media and includes performer's edits from McManus and Glovir, both of Seton Hill University.

This is an exciting, but demanding work for the advanced trombonist. The concerto is in three movements, with the second movement transitioning directly into the third. The pagination is clear, with excellent layout and page turns for the trombonist.

The music traverses a wide range of styles, reflected by the frequent changes of meter and tempo. There are frequent use of dolce and cantabile for reflective lyrical passages and English descriptors for more dynamic sections (i.e. majestic, aggressive, grand with energy, bluesy). The dynamics span the whole gamut, ranging from delicate bucket-muted ppp to very open and vibrant fff and ffff! The range requirements are indeed soloistic, traversing over three octaves (bass and tenor clefs), reflecting the wide tessiture spanning D2-E5 (low D-high E).

Although we may gravitate towards the upper range extremities, Goodman's piano reduction from his orchestral score demonstrates a keen understanding of orchestration, giving the trombone sonic space when descending into the middle and lower registers. The follow excerpts show how the piano is scored higher that the trombonist, so that the soloist is not competing with the piano to be heard in these delicate passages. The third movement excerpt of mm. 77-79 shows very low register playing for the tenor trombonist, while the subsequent mm. 81-86 show Goodman's supportive accompaniment in a higher tessitura that the melodic trombone line. The final excerpt is from the second movement, and employs a bucket mute to add more variety of sound color variety for the inner movement melodic style.

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Example 1. Third movement mm. 77-79 Low register orchestration.
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Example 2. Third movement mm. 81-86 Upper register orchestration.
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Example 3. Second movement mm. 119-122 Orchestration and use of bucket mute.

Goodman's Concerto is a fine contribution to contemporary solo trombone repertoire. For those wanting to learn more about the work, I encourage your listening to Peter Steiner's recording of the concerto on his 2017 debut album United, with Hsiao-Ling Lin, piano, on the Hello Stage label, available through Amazon Music and Youtube.