About the album
The album Robert Groslot conducts his concertos with Concert Band features 4 recent concertos for solo-instrument and concert band, as well as a series of variations for clarinet upon the famous Paganini theme of the 24th Caprice. While virtuosity is an important aspect of this CD, the compositions also demonstrate a sense of drama: each concerto seems to tell a story which, in the end, belongs to the listener to make up his own.
World-renowned euphonium soloist Steven Mead and the Royal Symphonic Band of the Belgian Guides Regiment join forces in the extremely difficult Euphonium Concerto, where the soloist, among other techniques, is required to sing and play at the same time. Prominent saxophone soloist (and well-known wind band conductor) Norbert Nozy displays his virtuoso skills and amazing staccato in the second work on this CD, Groslots Concerto for Saxophone. Piccolo specialist Peter Verhoyen and all-round percussionist Carlo Willems perform each a concerto specifically composed and dedicated to them, also under the baton of composer Robert Groslot. Finally, the variations upon a theme of Paganini Achaé, la docile Amie are performed by young clarinet virtuoso Vlad Weverbergh.
The variation piece for clarinet contains a lot of humor and playful virtuosity. Even the title Achaé, la docile Amie has a wink by the double wordplay, which refers to the notes of the opening motif of Paganini’s caprice: la-do-si-la-mi (‘la docile amie’) and the German notation ACHAE. The 4 concertos were written in 2011 and 2012 and belong to a larger series of fourteen concertos for solo-instrument and orchestra, here presented in their version for Concert Band. Though these concertos are quite different in character, expression and colour, they have some common characteristics.
The pure joy of performing remains a huge source of inspiration for composer Robert Groslot, who became laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition for Piano in 1978, before turning towards conducting and composing. This may explain the extremely virtuoso texture of the concertos. Naturally, the choice to write a series of concertos, rather than any other orchestral genre, is a conscious choice that underlines this aspect even more. According to the composer, “the tension of the battle of a soloist with the orchestra – but also with his or her own personality, cannot be replaced easily.”
These concertos have one other aspect in common: the form. For the composer, one big story is more interesting than many little ones. With a lot of variation they all are conceived as a one-movement overall structure, a mix between sonata and symphony form, referring to the impressive architecture of the famous Liszt piano sonata in b minor.
Robert Groslots music uses techniques of extended tonality, with even hints of contemporary and jazz techniques resulting in an impressive new and accessible language.
11Concerto for euphonium
12Concerto fo saxophone
13Concerto for piccolo
14Concerto for marimba
15Achae la docile Amie