My Sonata for Four Trombones was commissioned by the Marini Trombone Ensemble with funds provided by North West Arts. It was first performed by them at the Purcell Room, London, in 1985. The work is in one long, but continuous, movement and takes as its starting point the dramatic nature of sonata form. It consists of five alternating and varied blocks of music which are constantly juxtaposed in different ways. I was influenced here by Tippett’s use of this structural device in his Second Piano Sonata and Sonata for Four Horns. In my Sonata, the contrasting ideas (or musics) are identified by different tempi, thus:
|Tempo 1 –||bold and majestically – a fanfare in the form of rhythmic canon: The appearance of this music always signals a new departure point.|
|Tempo 2 –||stridently – fast music using imitation points built around rising 7ths and 9ths.|
|Tempo 3 –||peacefully – this music becomes increasingly important as the work progresses. Hints of a chorale melody become more prominent until eventually it provides a long and reflective conclusion to the sonata.|
|Tempo 4 –||aggressively – fast, scherzo-like, music which passes round repeated note figures.|
|Tempo 5 –||stately – slow, processional-like music which also has imitative fanfare patterns (using mutes) built on ascending thirds.|
A new soberly crafted, if rather protracted Sonata by Edward Gregson produces a neatly plotted variety of texture and nuance from its five contrasted and interleaved blocks of material.
Robert Henderson, Daily Telegraph
… Edward Gregson’s Sonata for Four Trombones had a characteristic suave craftsmanship. Its quilt work construction just about kept tabs on several distinctive ideas, notably some antiphonal, fanfare-like duets involving each player’s use of three different mutes … and a splendid passage of Penderecki-style raspberries.
Richard Morrison, The Times
Gregson has given us a composition of deep emotional substance …. He has used the instruments, rightfully in my opinion, as a medium of powerful expression and nobility.
Harold Nash, The Trombonist, 1986