Based on J.S. Bach’s “Chaconne in D minor” and composed on commission for the Rotary International’s Centennial Celebration, Tobias Broström has beautifully set Bach’s theme in a contemporary context and created an outstanding new trio for college or professional percussionists. Each performer is responsible for one keyboard instrument, one tuned gong, and a few accessories in this musically sophisticated, six-minute work.
Each player holds four mallets throughout the piece, and while there are no specific advanced techniques within the keyboard writing, the challenge of simultaneously playing vibraphone and crotales, or multiple woodblocks and marimba, will provide an extra level of interest for the audience and some extra choreography work on the part of the performers. The piece opens softly and slowly, transitions into a sparse 7/8 passage that gradually builds in activity and texture, and eventually relaxes into the final 3/4, which contains the most overt presentation of Bach’s original theme.
Throughout the work, the orchestration of the vibes and crotales beautifully shimmers over the resonant warmth and forward motion generated in the marimba and woodblock voices. The sparse use of tuned gongs and suspended cymbal adds a subtle, exotic flavor, and Broström effectively utilizes rolls, dead-strokes, and a wide range of dynamics and textures. A unique combination of the historical and the contemporary, this trio would be a welcome addition to literature for college recitals or professional chamber programs.
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