Sing-Übung is the name given by Michael Massong to his debut recital on MDG, and the title contains a program: lyrical pieces, in large part especially arranged for this CD, display a vocal quality of trombone playing that is without its equal. The selection of works also holds some surprises in store: Rachmaninov’s famous “Vocalise,” the fine emotion of Carl Maria von Weber’s “Romanze,” and Franz Liszt’s “Romance oubliée,” in which Michael Massong teases previously unheard-of vocal expressive depth out of his instrument.
The prizewinning horn player Přemysl Vojta performs the duo part in “Singübung,” the title work by Franz Schubert, and in the four duets by Johannes Brahms. Truly extraordinary: “Wotans Abschied” from the Die Walküre. Here the first upswing immediately captures the listener’s attention with gripping dynamics conveying all the inner turmoil of this father god. Tomoko Sawano’s piano playing means that we do not miss Wagner’s multicolored orchestra for a single moment!
Frank Martin’s “Ballade” begins very much in a narrative tone and as an original composition exploits the trombone’s full instrumental resources. Before the piece comes to a conclusion absolutely full of pathos, virtuosic passages challenge the instrumentalists. Spicy harmonies verging on jazz blur the boundaries between popular and serious music: but how might things be otherwise with the trombone!
Michael Massong is a genuine globetrotter. Born in Germany, he studied with all the greats of his instrument in Frankfurt, London, and New York and travels around the globe for master classes and solo performances. In order to meet his high demands, he has developed his own series of alto and tenor trombones in cooperation with the Thein brothers. The result makes for fascinating listening: a multifaceted instrumental portrait guaranteed to please brass fans – and not only them!