Home > Individual Works

Solus Rex for bass trombone and chamber ensemble (1992)

Scored for bass trombone and chamber ensemble (flute, oboe d’amore, horn, bass, piano, percussion). Commissioned by Chamber Society of Lincoln Center. Premiere 4 December 1992, Alice Tully Hall. David Taylor, solo bass trombone. Published by MMB. 20’.

Comment: My second homage to Dave Taylor was inspired by a Rembrandt painting of David and Saul.

Review: ”The evening’s main event was the West Coast premiere of David Schiff’s Solus Rex. The origins of Solus Rex are as interesting as the dense evocative music itself. After hearing David Taylor, a New York trombonist, perform several years ago, Schiff asked if he could write something for Taylor. The trombonist replied that he’d always wanted someone to compose him a piece based on Rembrandt’s painting ‘The Anger of Saul.' Solus Rex is the result. It’s a chamber concerto for bass trombone and ‘distorted’ jazz ensemble. But what Solus really does is show the trombone in all its throaty, chesty, honking, caressing, bellowing glory. As he often does, Schiff has written a classical work into which he weaves jazz and blues. The tension between the two styles is a Schiff trademark. But even then, Schiff keeps the improvisations under wraps. Most listeners won’t be aware of them unless they’re familiar with the piece. Taylor’s magnificent cadenza at the end of the second movement almost sounded improvised, but in fact he was playing the notes Schiff had written. Solus Rex is an astonishing virtuoso piece, Taylor played it with bold extravagance.” David Stabler, The Oregonian 23 July 1994.