Notes and Editorial Reviews
Winterreise is one of the greatest, most compelling and intense of all vocal song cycles. For the first of his explorations into the world of art song, Matthew Gee has turned to Schubert’s work in this unique arrangement for trombone and piano. English titles are used for the poems to emphasize the fact that text is no longer the primary expressive vehicle here. Instead, it is entrusted to the trombone, an instrument whose vocal qualities and ability to employ glissando, vibrato, portamento and microtonal inflections- allied to the use of various mutes- offers an astonishing array of tonal possibilities.
The idea of playing the vocal part of Schubert’s Winterreise on the modern slide trombone may seem far-fetched on paper, yet the multi-talented Matthew Gee’s cultivated mastery compensates for the lack of a text. He adjusts his timbre to each song’s specific emotional quality while following Schubert’s phrasings and dynamics closely. Gee also shifts registers for variety’s sake, although sometimes his use of mutes can stick out like a sore thumb (in Die Wetterfahne, for example).
The more lyrical, introspective songs provide ideal showcases for Gee’s smooth sonority and prodigious breath control; check out his honey-filled legato control in Der Lindenbaum, or those seamless and suave interval leaps in Rast. Pianist Christopher Glynn matches his partner’s singing tone with seamlessly dovetailed support. The sonics are rather diffuse and muffled at times, but the high level of music making always comes through. What could have been a gimmick or curio turns out to be a plausible and intelligently considered artistic endeavor.
– ClassicsToday (Jed Distler)