Matthew Gee & François Killian: Paradiso e inferno

Works by Rabe, Schubert, Xenakis, Brahms, Scelsi, Schnyder, Carter & Mahler

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Carter & Mahler,Rabe,Scelsi,Schnyder,Schubert,Xenakis
LABELS: MG Music
ALBUM TITLE: Paradiso e inferno
WORKS: Works by Rabe, Schubert, Xenakis, Brahms, Scelsi, Schnyder, Carter & Mahler
PERFORMER: Matthew Gee (trombone), François Killian (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: GEE01

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Matthew Gee, principal trombone player in several orchestras, chairman of the British Trombone Society, is a man with a mission as well as a trombone. He wants the world to take his instrument seriously by revealing its ‘beauty and terror’. And this first solo album, on his own label, is perfectly designed for the job. The bill of fare – late 20th-century cries and gurgles, interwoven with transcribed Schubert and Mahler songs – is striking enough. Even more impressive are the kaleidoscopic colours, virtuosic flights and liquid subtleties pouring from Gee’s lips.

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Scelsi’s Three Pieces deliciously tease us by persistently melting their tonal centres. Carter’s Gra, originally for clarinet, jumps about, puckishly playful; while Xenakis’s Keren muses over melodic material only to kick it in the pants. Quality and intensity drops for Daniel Schnyder’s sonata for tenor trombone, though its muffled central lament retains an eerie power. Lyrical beauties dominate the 19th-century transcriptions, ending spectacularly with the calm withdrawal of Mahler’s Rückert setting Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, given such a tender coda by François Killian’s piano. Along the way, in burnished eloquence, we visit paradise, hell, and much else inbetween: all this from an instrument too often considered just the orchestra’s clown. Geoff Brown