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Roger Verdi: Press

There are many exciting and touching moments on this CD, compliments of Verdi's interpretation and the fine repertoire selected. He performs with a great deal of energy and intensity in the Genzmer Sonata. The first movement has phrases that have rhythmic intensity, and Verdi does a great job of making the most of the music's natural "peaks and valleys." He plays with great tenderness in the Mahler Songs of a Wayfarer, especially in "My Sweetheart's Blue Eyes."
Verdi has selected some rarely recorded compositions for this CD. The Bozza Ciaccona and Bassett Sonata have never been recorded to this writer's knowledge. Both are exciting pieces that would be great additions to any solo recital. Verdi's performance of both pieces is pleasing and energetic.
In General, Verdi plays with a beautiful, rich tone. Many of the works showcase this attribute, especially the Bozza, Casterede (Movement 2) and the Mahler. There are moments on the CD where the tone could have been more grounded and the passagework could have been performed more clearly. Even so, the wide range of playing qualities and emotions are exemplary for students, fellow professionals and lovers of the trombone.
The piano skills of Martha Locker are very fine. She always plays with great clarity, and sensitively accompanies Verdi throughout.
This debut CD is evidence of the fine playing skills of Roger Verdi. Congratulations on a job well done!
James T. Decker - ITA Journal
This interesting recital kicks off with a piece by Samuel Rousseau (France, 1853–1904). The Paris Conservatoire-trained Rousseau (who studied organ with Franck and harmony with François Bazin) won second prize in the Prix de Rome with his cantata, Judith . The Pièce concertante exudes Franckian chromaticism, alternating slow and fast sections. The Cleveland-born composer Eric Ewazen provides the next piece. A student of Samuel Adler, Gunther Schuller, and Joseph Schwantner at the Eastman School, he writes music that is approachable and pleasurable to listen to. The Sonata’s first movement includes a notable lyric second subject (beautifully rendered here by Verdi). The second movement is a Pavane intoned by the trombone over doleful piano chords. Later piano contributions are marvelously voiced by Locker, while Verdi exhibits a seamless legato. The agile finale (perhaps describing it as bravura and virtuosic overstates the case) is delivered with much rhythmic zest by both players working as one.

There is no arranger listed for the Brahms. This is because the voice part is simply played by the trombone soloist. Of course, the meaning of the texts (Corinthians and Ecclesiastes) is lost, but the gravity of the work is not. There is no way this could ever seriously substitute for the likes of Hotter (his 1951 recording resides on EMI “Great Artists of the Century” 62808) or Theo Adam (Berlin Classics 94582), but heard in the present context the songs in the main retain sufficient dignity and gravitas to fulfil their function as the still center of the recital. Only the final song, “Wenn ich mit Menschen,” ends up sounding rather over-jovial.

The American composer Andrew Imbrie (1921–2007) boasted the distinguished teachers Leo Ornstein, Nadia Boulanger, and Roger Sessions. The piece heard here was written in 1967. Lines tend towards angular (particularly in the second Sketch ). The work as a whole is an excellent vehicle for the talents of both players, its acerbic idiom making maximum impact in its post-Brahmsian position. A recording of Imbrie’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Requiem on Bridge (9091) was enthusiastically welcomed by the late John Story in Fanfare 23: 3, and was listed in Stephen Ellis’s Want List in the year 2000 ( Fanfare 24:2). Alec Wilder’s Sonata was written in 1961 for John Swallow. Heavily influenced by jazz and light music, this is an often twilight score that contains much gentleness and a real sense of play. Finally, Eugene Bozza’s 1944 Ballade. The original is for trombone and orchestra. Jazz again is an influence, here mixed with French Impressionism. The piece exudes a valedictory aura entirely apposite to its program placement.

The Juilliard-trained pianist Martha Locker plays with laudable cleanliness of texture. Her carefully prepared accompaniments are a joy. The piano could have been captured with a touch more depth by the engineers, but no such complaints about the trombone sound, or its placement in the sonic space. Worth investigating. Colin Clarke
Colin Clarke - Fanfare Magazine