[Trombone-l] Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2

Tom Stark tbntom at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 6 13:33:52 CST 2010

does anyone out there have a PDF copy of Page 7 of the Third trombone part to this Symphony?


Tom Stark

From: Ray Horton <rayhorton at insightbb.com>
To: Trombone List <trombone-l at samford.edu>
Sent: Wed, January 6, 2010 12:21:05 PM
Subject: Re: [Trombone-l] Mahler Trombones was Mahler 3 trombone

See my comments in my last reply to Howard W.

Your comments on the standard Mahler trombone are interesting and helpful.
The bass part on the 6th could not have been played on an F bass, which 
could play only down to low A (the part reaches to G), so a Bb/F 
instrument is likely - I would guess with a larger mouthpiece and/or a 
specialist playing it.    The other possibility, I suppose would be 
Wagner's slide BBb contrabass trombone.  The part goes up to an E above 
the staff - risky, but playable.

I have played that symphony three ways, personally:
I played the 4th part only (1970, a nervous kid of 17, next to Per 
Brevig,  Bob Biddlecome and the other members of the Aspen Festival 
Orchestra under James Levine.  One great aspect about that performance 
was the rack of cow bells, which were behind an open door from the 
stage, outside, so the audience could see and hear them being rung in 
front of the beautiful Aspen Mountains.  Incredible -  almost calmed me 
down. --
I have played the 3rd part on the first three movements, switching to 
4th part on Mvt IV while an extra/assistant takes over 3rd (that is the 
most fun, getting all the good parts).
I have played the 3rd part only, when we were fortunate enough to have 
Ed Anderson (former Bs Trb , Cleveland Orchestra) come down from IU to 
play 4th.

On that last occasion, I was really struck with hwo the 3rd part is a 
bass part (even though, as you point out, all the parts are pretty low) 
but in the last movement it becomes a tenor part.  It took a bit of 
adjustment to play it cleanly.

Raymond Horton
Bass Trombonist
Louisville Orchestra

Keith Marr wrote:
> The standard orchestral trombone with which Mahler would have been 
> familiar was around 0.525" bore with either a 9.5" or 10" bell. I have 
> some of these traditional German instruments and they make a warm 
> sound with only a little edge to the tone in the very loudest playing. 
> The F valve notes are surprisingly clear though for such a small 
> instrument.
> Mahler specifies just "Posaune" for all his trombone parts and writes 
> right through the range on all the parts. The one exception to this 
> rule is the finale of the 6th Symphony where the 4th part is 
> introduced, having been tacit for the previous three movements. This 
> part Mahler specifically refers to as "Posaune IV - BassPosaune" (but 
> with that German double S character in the spelling of course) and is 
> probably thinking of an instrument pitched in F.
> I have tried, in the practice room, to play this part on a G 
> instrument but it is only possibly using the D valve as the passages 
> at 115 and 140 are very awkward, leading me to assume the traditional 
> European F bass was what he had in mind.
> When we played the 6th last year I played my ordinary bass, so Mahler 
> got pedal notes for these passages. We were sadly unable to budget for 
> my colleague Ed Solomon (sometimes of this list) to come and play the 
> part on his F contra.
> The writing for the 1st and 2nd trombones is really quite low, leading 
> my 1st trombone colleague to refer to the piece as "the bass 
> trombonist's revenge"! Just wait until he confronts the A to low D 
> "glissandi" in the 3rd . . .
> Keith in Bb/F/D
> St Albans Symphony Orchestra
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