Distant Images, Opus 15 by Neal Corwell

Instrumentation: solo trombone, or euphonium with CD accompaniment
Copyright: 1992
Duration: 9:00
Range: D to c-2
Difficulty: III
Publisher: Nicolai Music
Price: $20 (includes accompaniment CD and printed music with acc. cues)

a great opportunity to add to your music library!

Recorded by: Neal Corwell, euphonium (Distant Images CD, Nicolai Music)
Other Info: Written for, and premiered by, trombonist Ray Chaney at Shepherd College, West Virginia. Euphonium version premiered by Neal Corwell at 1992 International Tuba Euphonium Conference in Lexington, Kentucky.


This work was designed as a solo for either trombone or euphonium. The unique tonal palette of the accompaniment was created by digitally sampling two primary sources: the voice of the composer, and the sound of a hammer striking various metallic objects. The influence of minimalism is apparent in the use of repetitive accompaniment patterns and sustained drones in support of the solo’s melodic lines, in which two simple motivic ideas are continually developed and interwoven. The work begins with two cadenza-like sections, giving the soloist opportunity for freedom of expression. The pace then picks up for the remaining “images” which require the soloist to be rhythmically precise in order to maintain synchronization with the simple but rhythmically intricate accompaniment patterns. The trombone soloist uses straight, plunger, and harmon mutes to vary tone colors. When performing the euphonium version, clear instructions regarding muting of the instrument are provided.

There are programmatic implications to the various sections. The opening cadenza taking the listener to a place distant in time, eons ago, as the forces of nature were forming our planet. The ensuing section or “image” is intended to represent the evolution of life upon our home planet; a process that had its beginnings in the oceans and eventually made its way to the land masses. It features a slow and stable tempo marked by a steady progression of piano chords, and a continuous building of intensity in the solo line. The final set of images is representative of modern man and his creation of tools and machines in the effort to harness and control the powers and resources of our planet. The slow, free, and expressive opening images contrast sharply with the brisk pace of the latter half of the work (as mankind comes onto the scene) which is full of drive and momentum. The closing section features a climax created by the fusion of elements from all the previous images.