Most of this week has been spent touring Italy and Switzerland with the RPO. There are often rather a lot of distractions when on tour, especially when friends (colleagues) are intent on finding fun no matter how gruelling the schedule. However, opportunities still present for work on Winter Journey (as I am now referring to it), and this week has largely been spent listening to and pouring over scores on flights and bus journeys, whilst also keeping my playing in shape. This feels a priority, especially given the sheer number of dots I must learn over the next four months (at this stage it feels like I have spread my self way too thinly).

This week my time has been spent continuing on the processes I set out last week, namely marking-up the trombone part and deciding the best way to go about arranging each movement. But how much arranging and deconstructing of the music should take place? It is at this point that I find myself unsure of how to proceed.

The original idea for this project was to commission a composer to re-imagine Winterreise: a contemporary take on the work, much like Hans Zender’s version for chamber orchestra, but instead to be scored for piano, accordion, double bass, clarinet, percussion and solo trombone. This was pitched to Naxos, who weren’t completely convinced and suggested that a straighter version for trombone and piano would be more up their street. Up until this point my head had been full of this re-imagined version and what the trombone could bring to it: the extended techniques, the different mute colours etc. A version for trombone and piano however, presents a rather different set of problems, and I think it is safe to say that in my enthusiasm for Schubert’s work I had held tightly onto many of my ideas for the re-imagining, and implanted them into the version for trombone and piano. Thankfully, I have a pianist in Christopher Glynn who has a huge amount of experience performing and recording the work (check out his amazing new recording below), is a brilliant musician and knows the work like the back of his hand. Having sent Chris the first quarter of the work via email with notes outlining my ideas, he very politely suggested that I may be progressing down an artistic route which didn’t necessarily feel true to the work.

This was a hugely important lesson to learn at this stage, and I am really looking forward to meeting up with Chris next week to talk about the work and the arrangement in more detail.

Schubert’s ‘Winter Journey’ sung in English. Christopher Glynn and Roderick Williams. translation by Jeremy Sams. Totally blew me away, my favourite recording to date.