For Trombone & Brass Band, Written for & Commissioned by Brett Bake
The Fire & the Phoenix (2015) was commissioned by Brett Baker in early 2015 as the opening track to his solo CD 'Myths & Legends'. Whilst structurally a single-movement work, it is presented so that it can link directly into the next work on the CD, adding to a continuous theme comprising a number of pieces from a number of composers.
Opening with huge strident chords in the full band, the representation of the phoenix is instantly reflected; bold, powerful and a bird of great intensity. This makes way for a more mystical section marked ‘distant’ which reflect the beauty of the Phoenix and it’s mythical nature where the trombone soars up into its higher register with a sweeping melody.
Soon after, the music takes a sharp turn, becoming dramatic and instantly moving away from the mystical mood created previously. Here, we imagine the Phoenix catching fire, burning intensely with huge flames as it gradually turns into ash. We reach a tonic pedal point in the music, over which chord progressions subtly weave in and out of the texture. Here, we imagine the Phoenix rising from the ashes, with the dynamics gradually increasing to reflect this, slowly taking shape as it is born again.
A return to earlier material follows, this time manipulated to reflect the Phoenix in its new form – the same bird; the same animal; but at the same time different. A beautiful chorale-like passage is heard before the music transports us back into a magical land, where delicate rhythmic ideas are juxtaposed against bolder lower chords; both ideas together transporting the listener forward into the next piece.