BUFFALO - The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra made musical history this weekend, in a concert offering a world premiere of a brand new composition, featuring a rarely presented set of instruments. ''Triple Concerto for Three Trombones and Orchestra'' by New York City-based composer Eric Ewazen convinced a large audience in Kleinhans Music Hall that new music is not the object of fear which they might have come to expect.
The concerto was quite easy on the ear, in addition to being both intellectually and emotionally exciting. The sound was big and the harmonies were lush. A marimba and a xylophone were in play, along with chimes, tympani, and a very full orchestra.
The solo artists were the orchestra's regular trombone section. Jonathan Lombardo and Timothy Smith performed on tenor trombones, while Jeffrey Dee joined in on bass trombone. The three brass instruments produced a big heavy sound which alternately fit into and contrasted onto the orchestra's sound. The result was a classical concerto grosso, in which a small ensemble of instruments engages in a conversation with the full orchestra.
The concert was conducted by the orchestra's Musical Director, JoAnn Falletta. She started the evening with a very sprightly and brisk reading of Prokofiev's ''Classical Symphony, Op. 25.'' The work is rather familiar to the audience and was so full of energy that there was a palpable uplift in the seats, in preparation for the evening's focus event.
Ewazen came onstage and introduced his work, stating that the concerto is dedicated to the orchestra and to Ms. Falletta, and to the three soloists. However, he has given a special dedication of the second, lyrical movement of the piece to Scott Parkinson, a previous trombonist with the orchestra whose untimely passing, in 2004, was troubling to both the musicians and the composer.
Although I doubt the audience will take Ewazen's advice to ''Forget the three tenors and look for the three trombones,'' I suspect that virtually everyone in the crowd would welcome the opportunity to hear the work again.
Following intermission, the musicians returned to offer a spirited rendering of Beethoven's ''Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92.'' As with the two earlier works, Ms. Falletta fired up the orchestra with speed and energy, and the richness of the heavy text flowed beautifully.
The BPO will repeat the concert this afternoon at 2:30 p.m., in Kleinhans Music Hall, on Symphony Circle, in Buffalo. A recording session of the work is scheduled, and we will let you know if a commercial disc will be released to the public.