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Instrumentation: Solo and Piano Instruments: Euphonium, Piano
Serenade, Op.21, for Euphonium and Orchestra was composed in January 1979 as a work commissioned by Henry Charles Smith for the Minnesota Orchestra. Smith, longtime principal trombonist with the Philadelphia Orchestra before assuming the resident conductor/trombone post with the Minnesota Orchestra, was the soloist on euphonium in the premiere subscription concert performances with the orchestra later that year.
The Serenade is “an attractive, accessible but by no means insubstantial work” (Michael Anthony review, Minneapolis Star Tribune) for the instrument and orchestra. The Serenade runs about 15 minutes, is cast in four sections, and there is much of a feeling of a serenade about it, especially in the first two sections. Even the scherzo-like third section, after several pages of brassy, rhythmically vibrant activity, concludes with a series of slow, upward moving, yearning phrases in the solo instrument. The work is tonal and in the orchestral version, there is a considerable amount of solo work from various instruments of the orchestra – like the dialogue between the euphonium and the oboe in the “Nocturne” second section. Forsberg always keeps the solo instrument busy, especially in the festive finale. But his concern seems to be less with virtuosic display - or with exploring new techniques for the instrument – than with exploiting the instrument’s lyrical potential. Although written especially for the euphonium, the work might be performed as well with the tenor trombone. After editing and a few minor revisions from the 1979 manuscript score, the piece will now be available from Cimarron Music Press in piano, orchestra and wind ensemble accompaniment versions.
CWF, April 28, 2019