Materials Received Feb. 1-May 1 with thanks:
A Road Less Travelled Music for Solo Tuba CD recording featuring Craig Knox, tuba
Range Songs for tuba or euphonium by David Vining
Radiant Blues CD recording featuring the music of Charles L. Booker (Concertino for Tuba and Wind Band, Kevin Sanders, tuba)
Concertino for Tuba and Wind Band by Charles L. Booker
Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 1, Op. 64 by Sergei Prokofiev arranged for tuba and piano by Charles Vernon
16 Changing Meter Pieces for euphonium or tuba by Ken Davies
Der Ring des Nibelungen excerpts for low brass section compiled by Stephen Fissel
The Hollywood Warm Up “A Knight’s Tale for euphonium or tuba compiled and edited by Dr. Kevin Sanders and Marcus Wiggins
Quintessence for brass quintet by Frank H. Siekmann
Reviewed in this issue:
Tales of an Old Grandmother op. 31 by Sergey Prokofiev arranged for euphonium and piano by Ralph Sauer
Concerto by Benedetto Marcello arranged by Pat Stuckemeyer for euphonium and piano
Pavane by Gabriel Fauré transcribed for euphonium and harp by Vanja Lisjak
Auld Lang Syne by Simone Mantia for euphonium and piano edited by Matthew White
Concerto for Euphonium by Vanja Lisjak for euphonium and brass and percussion or piano reduction
Capriccio di Niccolo – Variations on a theme of Paganini by Frank Proto for euphonium and piano
rangesongs by David Vining
Morceau de Concours by J. Ed. Barat for euphonium and piano
La Virgena de la Macarena, traditional music arranged for solo euphonium or trombone and six-part tuba and euphonium ensemble by Pat Stuckemeyer
…and sundry movements of the heart… for tuba and piano by Jonathan B. McNair
Floating Dreams for tuba and CD accompaniment by Peter Meechan
Tales of an Old Grandmother op. 31 by Sergey Prokofiev arranged for tuba (bass trombone) and piano by Ralph Sauer
Episodes and Echoes for tuba and piano by Peter Meechan
rangesongs by David Vining
Blues for Tuba by Michael Burns for tuba and hi-hat
Syrinx by Claude Debussy arranged for solo tuba by J. E. Brinkman
Suite for Tuba by Crawford Gates for tuba, celesta, harp, piano, and percussion
Brass Quintet/Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble/Chamber Music
Chiapas by Hank Levy arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet and drum set by Ryan McGeorge
Quattro Canzoni by Giovanni Gabrieli arranged for tuba/euphonium quartet by Mike Forbes
Wither must I wander? by Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet by Ross Cohen
Organ Fugue in G minor by J. S. Bach arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet by Gretchen Renshaw
String Quartet No. 4 in D Major, Op. 83 by Dmitri Shostakovich arranged for brass quintet by Paul Erion
Born With a Hammer by Jonathan Hansen for trombone choir, tubas, and drum set
Linden Lea by Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for euphonium quartet by Ross Cohen
Latintensity by Hank Levy arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet and rhythm section by Ryan McGeorge
Tubacus Galacticus by Ryan McGeorge for tuba-euphonium quartet and drum set
A Road Less Traveled CD recording featuring Craig Knox, tuba with Rodrigo Ojeda, piano
“Three Prayers” on Connections CD Recording by Kim Portnoy recorded by Gerry Pagano
Philadelphia Brass: The Anniversary Album CD recording featuring the Philadelphia Brass
Going the Distance CD recording featuring Las Tubas De Tucson
Solo Euphonium (various accompaniment)
Tales of an Old Grandmother op. 31 by Sergey Prokofiev arranged for euphonium and piano, and tuba (bass trombone) and piano by Ralph Sauer. Cherry Classics Music. 437 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. 604-261-5454. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.cherryclassics.com. CC 2477 (euphonium), CC 2478 (tuba/bass trombone). 2011. $17.50.
Former Los Angeles Philharmonic principal trombone, and current visiting professor at Arizona State University, Ralph Sauer has arranged this piece, originally for solo piano, for various low-brass instruments and piano. This music, in these arrangements, is certainly reminiscent of the extremely effective arrangements by Gene Pokorny for tuba and piano of some of Prokofiev’s other piano works. The plaintive, erratic, often melancholy music of Prokofiev’s op. 31 lends itself well to our instruments. While not as pervasively lyrical as the music of Rachmoninov, there is an omni-present singing quality to the original solo-piano score, from which Mr. Sauer extracts effective solo lines for euphonium, bass trombone or tuba. The arrangements do not always give the melody to the brass instrument, transforming this work not into a work for soloist and accompanist, but a true piece of collaborative chamber music. While this arrangement is not too technically difficult (aside from some challenges in range), it will require of the brass player excellent musicianship and a willingness to collaborate, rather than simply lead, in order to realize all the wonderful moments in this four-movement suite.
The ranges selected by Mr. Sauer (Euphonium: C#-c#2. Tuba (bass trombone): BB-e1) may be the primary technical obstacle. Unlike Mr. Pokorny’s arrangements, which take full advantage of the extreme low register of the tuba, these arrangements spend very little time in the low range of the euphonium, and only get into the lower mid-range of the tuba. On the other end there are many sustained passages in the upper registers of both instruments. While the upper range is not extremely high, there is quite a lot of it. The tuba arrangement would be much easier to play on a bass tuba rather than contrabass, and the euphonium arrangement could also prove tiring.
–Alexander Lapins, DM, Northern Arizona University
Concerto by Benedetto Marcello arranged by Pat Stuckemeyer for euphonium and piano. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283. Phone: (480) 823-5874, Fax: (480) 456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. SKU #: 80013. 2006. $14.95.
Marcello’s Concerto for Oboe makes for a fine addition to the solo euphonium literature. In three movements, the concerto allows the soloist to demonstrate both lyrical and technical styles while incorporating characteristic features of the Baroque style. This piece, originally in d minor, is lowered to c minor in Stuckemeyer’s arrangement.
Composer Benedetto Marcello was a Venetian magistrate who also pursued a career in music. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, his works were highly respected as being imaginative and progressive. In them, he artfully uses counterpoint and other compositional techniques. This concerto exemplifies each of these features. It also includes ornamentations typical of the baroque period to assist the soloist in delivering a stylistically correct performance.
Arranger Pat Stuckemeyer is a veteran performer, having graduated from the Conservatory of Music at Capital University, the University of Kansas, and the Royal Northern College of Music. He has a DMA from Arizona State University and is a faculty member at Mesa Community College.
In this arrangement, Stuckemeyer edits some of the musical material but is true to the original. The opening allegro moderato has legato arpeggiated passages that contrast with the scalar melodic lines of the second adagio movement. To conclude, the final allegro movement incorporates more technical demands and a greater variety of articulations. Both solo and piano parts are computer-generated, easy to read, and include measure numbers. Also, the solo part is provided in both treble and bass clefs. This piece presents some challenges for the soloist but is well crafted, thoughtfully arranged, and musically rewarding.
–Daniel Johnson, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Pavane by Gabriel Fauré transcribed for euphonium and harp by Vanja Lisjak. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283. Phone: (480) 823-5874, Fax: (480) 456-8826. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. SKU #: 212100000225. 2010. $19.95
It is exciting to see another new arranger/composer that has been inspired by Steven Mead to write for the euphonium. Thank you Steven! Vanja Lisjak is principal trombonist in the Croatian Radio Television Symphony Orchestra as well as a founding member and the artistic leader of the Croatian Brass Quintet. In addition to his orchestral activities, Vanja is also a composer, arranger, producer, soloist and teacher.
Vanja’s rendition of Pavane was written for Steven and it is a great addition to the relatively non-existent repertoire for euphonium and harp. There are no surprises in this familiar work. It is in the original key of f-sharp minor and I feel that the key will make it a little more difficult, but it will add to the beauty of the work. Yes, it will be a challenge for some younger players, but the end result should prove to be very rewarding. The layout and paper quality of the music are excellent and there are bass clef and B-flat treble clef parts included.
–Gail Robertson, University Distinguished Fellow – Michigan State University,
Willson International Euphonium Artist
Auld Lang Syne by Simone Mantia for euphonium and piano edited by Matthew White. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283. Phone: (480) 823-5874, Fax: (480) 456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. SKU #: 80012
Please welcome a new engraved version of the famous Simone Mantia euphonium solo, Auld Lang Syne, edited by Matthew White. Matthew is a student of the Royal Northern College of Music and a student of Steven Mead. The only edition that I own of Mantia’s version is a handwritten version in the compilation of solos titled The Art of Euphonium Playing by former Marine Band euphoniumist, Arthur Lehman. An early version of this solo was also published by Dixie Music House Publishing Company in 1905. Thank you Matthew for your new edition!
The well-known theme, Auld Lang Syne, comes from the Scottish traditional song that is traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve. As euphonium soloist in John Philip Sousa’s band, Mantia was an amazing technician and is still famous today for his marvelous playing. I find this solo to be one of the more difficult theme and variation solos of this type because the piano interludes between the solo variations are brief. It is still worth every bit of the effort when your audience goes mad at the end of your performance!
The paper quality is excellent, however, the bass clef version has a few measures that are a bit crammed and some of the accidentals overlap the notes in a few places. (Not a problem at all in the treble clef version) There is also a bad page turn, in both clef versions, during the cadenza that is easily solved by making a copy of the last page. Both bass clef and B-flat treble clef parts included.
–Gail Robertson, University Distinguished Fellow – Michigan State University,
Willson International Euphonium Artist
Concerto for Euphonium by Vanja Lisjak for euphonium and brass and percussion or piano reduction. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283. Phone: (480) 823-5874, Fax: (480) 456-8826. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. Piano reduction: SKU #: 212100000205. $29.95. With brass and percussion: SKU #:80041. $149.95. 2011.
It is exciting to see yet another new composer and arranger that has been inspired by Steven Mead to write for the euphonium. Thank you Steven! Vanja Lisjak is principal trombonist in the Croatian Radio Television Symphony Orchestra as well as a founding member and the artistic leader of the Croatian Brass Quintet. Coinciding with his orchestral activities, Vanja is also a composer, arranger, producer, soloist and teacher.
In addition to his arrangements for the euphonium, Vanja has composed our first major concerto for the euphonium with brass and percussion accompaniment. There are two versions of this work: brass and percussion accompaniment or piano reduction. The instrumentation for the brass and percussion requires four horns in F, three trumpets in C, two tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, snare drum, vibraphone and marimba. There are three movements: I. Moderato, II. Ritual Dance, III. Allegro giocoso.
This work was composed for Steven Mead in 2009 and according to him, “this work is a masterwork for a truly international stage. For sure this is one of the most important euphonium solo works of the decade.” Before I had even read his quote, I had played through several of the passages and could tell from my initial contact that it was a winner. It has beautiful exciting lines and melodies and it lies extremely well for the euphonium. Further, it has clearly marked articulations, phrase markings, dynamics, style indications, and suggested tempos with metronomic indications.
An especially welcomed feature of this concerto is that the euphonium’s range is reasonable (AA – c2). It is a major work that will be able to be played by players who do not have the usually required “heroic” upper registers. Vanja’s work will be a welcomed addition to anyone’s repertoire, but especially appreciated by someone who is preparing for a solo recital. At almost 25 minutes long, it provides great music and allows some chops left to play more! If time is limited, any one of these movements will succeed if played without the others.
This work has been recorded by Steven Mead and the Brass and Percussion of the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra on a compact disc titled: Croatian Euphonic Brass. At the time of this review, I was not able to locate a recorded version with piano. The piano part does not appear to be too busy or complex compared to the usual piano renditions of other works.
The ensemble version of this work is an excellent example of how to write for the euphonium in many ways. First of all, it is idiomatic for the instrument and second; it is written in such a way that the ensemble does not cover it! The euphonium has a truly soloistic role and it is the “main” featured instrument. However, the other parts are not “just an accompaniment,” they are also written well and have their own individual contribution to this work.
The quality of the paper is excellent, the music is spaced out well (not crammed), the page turns are great, and it includes bass clef and B-flat treble clef versions of the solo part. Thank you Potenza music for such a fine layout of this solo!
–Gail Robertson, University Distinguished Fellow – Michigan State University,
Willson International Euphonium Artist
Capriccio di Niccolo – Variations on a theme of Paganini by Frank Proto for euphonium and piano. Liben Music Publications, 513-232-6920. Fax: 513-232-1866. http://www.liben.com. 2012. $25.
Composer Frank Proto enjoys a successful career, which has included being a professional bassist in New York City and the Composer-in-Residence for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He wrote two pieces for trumpet soloist Doc Severinsen, both for trumpet and orchestra. Proto did the piano versions for both. Capriccio di Niccolo is the second of the two, which Severinsen premiered with the Boston Pops in 1995. I was fortunate enough to have heard the premier and I was very excited about Capriccio, partly because I thought it would be a fine piece for euphonium. I ordered the trumpet sheet music, and in 1998 I played it at ITEC in Minneapolis. Last year I sent Mr. Proto the recording from that recital, suggesting he might want to offer a euphonium version. He agreed, and believes it is well suited to the instrument. The solo/piano version is largely the same as in the trumpet version, except the solo part is rendered in bass clef and has some different ossia parts. (The orchestral accompaniment features somewhat lighter textures in places so the euphonium will more easily project.)
Capriccio di Niccolo is based on the theme of the popular Caprice No. 24 by Niccolo Paganini. It consists of an introduction, theme, and 10 variations in several styles. Some of the variations fit comfortably into the realm of existing euphonium performance practice, presenting a challenge to prepare, but not venturing outside technical demands of some of our standard works. In the middle of the piece is a variation set as a soft jazz ballad that shows off the lyrical euphonium sound in a transparent context. Some of the other variations give the soloist the chance to step outside the traditional styles and explore the exciting, “brassier” side of the euphonium. No “ad-libbing” is required for soloist or accompanist.
Mr. Proto has provided ample ossia options throughout the solo as well as optional cuts to shorten the performance time to fit different circumstances. (Doc Severinsen’s premier performance used some of the cuts, which made the length about 14 minutes.) The solo range is from G to c2. There are some optional higher notes within the piece and an optional f2 for the final note. Difficulty is Level IV, and the piece is best suited for players with good dynamic range and strong high range (at least up to c2).
Capriccio di Niccolo is a valuable addition to our repertoire. It offers a change of pace for recital programs and provides soloists the chance to show a different side of their abilities. At the same time Frank Proto has given us a very programmable piece to perform with orchestra. I enthusiastically recommend this solo for anyone who is looking for an exciting and challenging piece.
–David Werden, U.S. Coast Guard Band (retired)
Morceau de Concours by J. Ed. Barat for euphonium and piano. Potenza Music. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. 2011. $14.95.
This contest piece was originally composed for the ex-principal French-tuba player of the French Republican Guard, Ami J. Balay, and was published by Alphonse LeDuc in the early 1930s. It has been out-of-print for a number of years, and so it is a great service to the euphonium community to get this exemplary work back into circulation.
The work highlights the player’s technical facility in both sections: Lent and Allegro. The Lent section also contains a fair amount of slower, lyrical playing and two cadenzas – it is within this second cadenza that the optional CC appears, and here the piece is confirmed to be a piece written for French-tuba. The French-tuba is an instrument pitched a whole step above the modern euphonium, but typically has six valves to add a significant low register. This is the instrument for which the Ravel transcription of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition “Bydlo” solo was written, in addition to many other solo works written for “tuba.” This is the confusing part, as “tuba” appears at the top of these parts, as the six-valved French-tuba in C was the tuba in use in France at the time. As would be expected, in comparison to most modern compositions for euphonium, Morceau de Concours has a rather low range: C (with optional CC) – a-flat1. I think that the modern euphonium is the appropriate successor to the French-tuba, and Barat’s Morceau de Concours is effective on euphonium, though perhaps a bit of a challenge to keep the extreme low register open for some students.
The Allegro section is in ¾ time with the quarter note at 200-208; most note values are quarter and eighth notes, with some eighth note triplets. An accelerando is marked to the end. The entire work has a run-time of a little over six minutes.
This edition appears to be a re-setting of the Alphonse LeDuc original, as can be heard on Roger Behrend’s CD Elegance or in numerous live recordings available on YouTube.com. I should point out that the typeset is quite clear and legible, unlike the PDF file of sample pages found on the Potenza Music website. Bravo to Potenza for making this important work available once again!
–Jason Byrnes, University of Northern Colorado
La Virgena de la Macarena, traditional music arranged for solo euphonium or trombone and six-part tuba and euphonium ensemble by Pat Stuckemeyer. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. 2006. $14.95.
Euphonium artist, Pat Stuckemeyer’s young career has seen him record two albums, commission several new works for the euphonium as well as perform with some of the world’s most prestigious brass bands. La Virgena de la Macarena is a traditional bullfighting song that was once made famous by Rafael Mendez. It features a virtuosic solo euphonium part that is complimented by a well-orchestrated six-part ensemble for either euphoniums or trombones and tubas
The ranges for the parts are: Solo Euphonium or Trombone: G – c², Euphonium I: d – g¹, Euphonium II: c – g¹, Euphonium III: d – d¹, Tuba I: G – f¹, Tuba II: D – d¹, Tuba III: GG – f. The solo part is available in both treble and bass clefs, but all other parts are only printed in bass clef.
La Virgena de la Macerna consists of several call and response type phrases between the ensemble and the soloist, whose part becomes gradually more intricate and virtuosic as the piece unfolds. This type of orchestration naturally ensures that the soloist will not struggle to be heard over the six-part ensemble. Although the ensemble is specified as three euphoniums and three tubas, other combinations could also be used depending on the forces available.
La Virgena de la Macrarena would make for an excellent concluding piece for a trombone or euphonium recital or provide an opportunity to feature a talented student during a small ensemble concert.
–Jonathan Fowler, DMA, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Solo Tuba (various accompaniment)
…and sundry movements of the heart… for tuba and piano by Jonathan B. McNair. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. Catalogue # 212100000494. 2011. $19.95.
Jonathan B. McNair is an accomplished composer whose works have been performed and recorded across the globe. He has won numerous awards including Tennessee Composer of the Year for 2008 by the Tennessee Music Teachers Association, as well as having received numerous grants and commissions from organizations throughout Tennessee and the United States. Dr. McNair is currently the U.C. Foundation Professor of Music Theory and Composition an the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he periodically produces contemporary music concerts.
Commissioned by and dedicated to Kenyon Wilson at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, “the four movements of this work explore very diverse (“sundry”) musical territories: abstract and serious, songlike, humorous, pensive and transcendent.” The opening “Prelude” requires a strong musician and technician to negotiate the long phrases and complex syncopated rhythms that appear throughout the movement. The second movement, a beautiful homophonic “Song” begins and ends in B-flat major, and which requires some stamina as it stays in and above the staff for the duration of the movement. The third movement, entitled “Vaudeville” is intended to be “light-hearted and witty.” The performer here should have a great deal of flexibility and accuracy, as well as some good glissandi and rip technique. The fourth movement, “Standing Stones,” starts out very somber and enigmatic before reaching a brilliant climax at the end. This movement is reflective of the “numerous sites in the British Isles where ancient people erected huge stones in circles, and the incredible effort required to do so…”
This work is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for the beginning tuba player. Each of the movements provides unique challenges that befit the character and title of each section. Strong senses of rhythm, a great deal of flexibility on the horn, and a developed sense of phrasing, are all necessary for the performance of this work.
— Brian Gallion, Southeastern Louisiana University
Floating Dreams for tuba and CD accompaniment by Peter Meechan. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. PMM021a. 2008. $24.95.
Peter Meecham is a well known young composer from England who has written extensively for many of Europe’s leading artists including Steven Mead, David Childs and Black Dyke Band. His music infuses the styles of popular artists such as Pink Floyd and Miles Davis with that of Messiaen and Stravinsky. This cross-germination is quite present in Floating Dreams.
The piece starts with a brief synthesized chorale which is then joined by the tuba, initiating a chant-like phrase. In the section that follows, the tuba expands this simple phrase as both range and rhythm become gradually larger and more complex. The music is mostly pentatonic and retains a tonal center throughout. In the second half the accompaniment becomes more rhythmically intense and the tuba solo approaches a nice climax with the optional f¹. The piece concludes with a return of some of the pentatonic material from the first half and a final three-note theme, punctuated by the soloist and synth simultaneously.
As the name might inspire, Floating Dreams has an atmospheric quality to it that is reminiscent of the gamelan music of Asia. With a length of just under six minutes, it could function well as a change of pace on a recital. Although written for tuba, the range makes it very accessible for euphonium players as well.
–Jonathan Fowler, DMA, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Episodes and Echoes for tuba and piano by Peter Meechan. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. PMM018. 2006. $29.95.
British composer Dr. Peter Meechan (www.petemeechan.com) wrote Episodes and Echoes in 2005 for tubist Les Neish. Neish premiered this three-movement concerto with the Beaumaris Brass Band. Meechan has since scored the work for tuba solo with wind band and tuba solo with piano. The work is featured on Les Neish’s album Salt of the Earth. In 2010, Episodes and Echoes won the Harvey G. Phillips Award for Excellence in Composition at the Tucson, Arizona ITEC.
According to the composer, “I had several problems to overcome – the brass band contains four tubas, and two euphoniums, all of which could obscure the solo line, so I decided to write for the soloist in a manner that meant they were either playing alone, in episodes, or repeating/echoing phrases.” Meechan’s conscientious acknowledgment of these difficulties and his strategies for getting around them are clear throughout the work. In addition to the episodic nature of the solo part, the accompaniment is quite sparse, especially in the first movement. He brings the solo part out even further by remaining in the higher register for most of the work. The range of the tuba solo part is from DD to a-flat1, but seldom falls below the staff. Meechan was clearly writing for a top-level professional player on bass tuba and endurance will be a consideration for most players.
If Meechan went out of his way to compose in an idiomatic way for the tuba in the first movement, he expanded outward from there in the second and third movement. The second movement is a vocally-inspired aria and recitative. There are long unaccompanied recitative sections in this movement that, while not technically difficult, will stretch the soloist’s musicality. In the third movement the solo tuba part resembles funk bass guitar lines, with frequent octave jumps and sixteenth note syncopation. There is an extensive written-out cadenza that includes multiple octave glissandi and some sing-and-play-in-unison effects, but the composer notes that “the soloist is free to improvise his or her own cadenza.”
Rhythmically, Episodes and Echoes is reasonably straight-ahead. There are very few changes in time signature and these do not change the subdivision of the beat. Velocity of sixteenth-note lines will be the primary rhythmic challenge, with some syncopation and octave displacement in the third movement. Examples from each movement of this work can be viewed online at: http://www.petermeechanmusic.co.uk/samples/episodes_sample.pdf.
–Dr. T. J. Ricer
Blues for Tuba by Michael Burns for tuba and hi-hat. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. Sku #90001. 2011. $14.95.
Michael Burns is Professor of bassoon at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and composed this piece specifically for Dennis AsKew in 1998. Dr. AsKew premiered the piece at UNCG and then at the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference in Sydney, Australia that same year. Dr. Burns says “the tuba is generally relegated to playing bass lines and providing the foundation of a group while hardly ever getting the solo spotlight. This piece partially explores both roles with the player acting as both the ‘walking’ bass line and the solo voice.” The piece is in 12/8 meter with a hi-hat played by the soloist on beats two and four, the tuba joining in the second bar. The hi-hat continues throughout the piece, while the tuba plays an ostinato of quarter – eighth, quarter – eighth broken by outbursts of melody.
The shape of the composition is primarily that of an arc – up for a while, back down, and then sharply up in feel then down toward the end, with a double forte finish. I think two special skills are involved playing this. The first, of course, is the playing of the hi-hat. Most musicians know what it is – two cymbals on a stand that strike together when you push down the foot pedal. Aside from obtaining one (maybe you have an understanding percussionist friend), you really need to practice moving your foot in time while you play a more involved melodic line on a wind instrument. This is more complicated than it seems. Also, the 12/8 meter is broken by a few bars of 9/8 – and of course you can’t play on beats two and four in those bars. There is no additional instruction for the 9/8 bars, and I would suppose you just play on beat two. This is not really any easier. Another skill is singing a glissando upward in pitch while sustaining a “c” on the horn.
Because of this two special skills discussed above, I would have to assign this a Level IV difficulty. The range here is CC to d1, with an optional 8va that extends up to a g flat1.
There are three additional pieces of information that might interest the tubist. On the Potenza Music website, the composition is listed under “Chamber Music” because it is for two instruments. The back story on the solo is that Dr. AsKew had an instrument stolen out of a van and another one “flattened” by an accident, so that the alternate titles of the piece are Blues for a Flat Tuba and Blues for a Stolen Tuba! Due to Dr. Burns’ background, the piece is also available as Blues for Contra for contrabassoon.
–Michael Short, Drake University
Syrinx by Claude Debussy arranged for solo tuba by J. E. Brinkman. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. (480) 823-5874. (480) 456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. 2010. $14.95.
Syrinx was composed by Claude Debussy in 1913 for solo flute and has since become a part of the standard repertoire for that instrument. According to the Potenza website Debussy composed this piece with the intention that it be performed as incidental music for the unfinished plat, Psyche. Syrinx appears to be an exact transcription from the flute part. Arranger, Justin Brinkman went to some length to ensure that the expressive markings were preserved in the tuba part.
The back cover bears this statement by Mr. Brinkman:
“Much detail has been taken to ensure that the expression markings help the performer convey the mythical legend of the Greek God Pan and the nymph Syrinx, for which this piece is titled for. Being familiar with the legend associated with this piece will greatly aid the performer in “painting” a believable portrait for listeners of Pan and Syrinx.”
This beautiful floral work will be great for an advanced performer looking for a short work. I give this piece an overall difficulty of IV. This arrangement would probably work best played on bass tuba due to a range from D flat – e flat1 that stays in a relatively high tessitura for extended periods of the piece. Primary concerns of the work will be the very free rhythmic nature as well as high range.
As always with music from Potenza, the part is very clean and easy to read. There are no page turns involved. The part is bound in a cardstock cover. Syrinx is composed in three parts (ABA1). The melodic line of this work can be summarized with a single word; lush. Total length of Syrinx is about three minutes.
Justin Brinkman is the Director of Bands at Elmwood Local Schools, Bloomingdale, Ohio. He was also at one point a member of the Ohio Air National Guard during which time he took time to compose and arrange music. Even with a growing quantity of original compositions for the tuba transcriptions are an important part of the tuba repertoire. Mr. Brinkman’s arrangement of Syrinx adds to this body of music a piece which is both expressive and technical in nature.
–Jeremy Lewis, West Texas A&M University
Suite for Tuba by Crawford Gates for tuba, celesta, harp, piano, and percussion. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. 2010. $44.95.
Crawford Gates (b. 1921) is a composer, conductor, and educator who composed a great deal of music for voice and choir. He has written some works that feature the tuba and euphonium. His Suite for Tuba was originally written in 1977 for Dr. Cherry Beauregard’s first faculty recital at the Eastman School of Music. This six-movement work has a sizeable instrumentation and features a challenging tuba solo. Each movement derives its title from Baroque movements including Intrada, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gavotte, and Gigue.
This work is scored for solo tuba, celesta, harp, piano, and percussion. The percussion part is normally performed by two different people since it is quite difficult and involves the use of a variety of equipment. The score includes a diagram of suggested stage set-up since there are so many different instruments involved in the Suite. Each movement makes use of a different combination of the accompanying instruments and the solo tuba. The first movement, Intrada, uses the most varied instrumentation of the piece with the solo tuba joined by timpani, cymbals, wood block, glockenspiel, vibraphone, celesta, harp, and piano. The second movement, Allemande, combines the soloist with a bell tree, gourd guiro, harp, and piano. The third movement, Courante, is essentially a duet for tuba and xylophone with occasional cymbals and triangles. The fourth movement, Sarabande, removes unpitched percussion from the sonic landscape and leaves the tuba joined by glockenspiel, celesta, and harp. The fifth movement, Gavotte, features the return of unpitched percussion and timpani in combination with the tuba. The sixth movement, Gigue, gives one final combination of the solo tuba joined by glockenspiel, celesta, harp, and piano.
Naturally, the size and scope of this work limits its use by most performers. The tuba part is quite challenging and covers a range from GGG to g1. The soloist is required to make massive leaps throughout the range of the instrument quickly and agilely. The wide variety of accompanying instruments and their variety of combinations with the solo tuba makes this piece stand out from many other works for tuba.
— Dr. Daniel Brown
Tuba/Euphonium Quartets and Ensembles
Chiapas by Hank Levy arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet and drum set by Ryan McGeorge. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. 2010. $29.95.
Hank Levy’s jazz compositions frequently use odd meters. Chiapas is a perfect example of Levy’s odd meter writing. Chiapas is written in 5/4 and was originally recorded by the Stan Kenton Band in 1970. Ryan McGeorge, euphonium player with “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, has taken this big band tune and arranged it for tuba-euphonium quartet and drum set. McGeorge’s version stays close to the original version and uses the original backgrounds for solo sections.
This arrangement sets the quartet members into distinct roles. Euphonium I, Euphonium II, and Tuba I take the place of the non-rhythm sections members of the band. Each instrument is given the lead at one point during the arrangement. Euphonium II and Tuba I each have a solo section that is written out, but the performer can improvise a solo based upon the changes provided in the parts. Tuba II plays the role of the bass throughout this arrangement. The Tuba II part normally plays a repeated bass line underneath the other parts. The ranges of the parts are: Euphonium I: B – f2, Euphonium II: A-flat – c2, Tuba I: E – f1, Tuba II: DD – a-flat. Euphonium parts in bass and treble clef are provided.
McGeorge has done a great job accurately representing the original version of this tune with his arrangement. Each part has its own challenges. The Tuba II part requires some low range playing and a steady sense of time. The three upper parts have some rhythmic challenges and some wide leaps to navigate. Euphonium II and Tuba I have the option of improvisation, which can be a massive hurdle for many performers. The addition of drum set to the standard tuba-euphonium quartet helps keep the rhythmic integrity of this arrangement since 5/4 may be uncomfortable for less experienced performers.
— Dr. Daniel Brown
Quattro Canzoni by Giovanni Gabrieli arranged for tuba/euphonium quartet by Mike Forbes. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283. (480) 823-5874. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. $19.95.
Some of the earliest music specifically written for brass instruments (as well as woodwinds and strings), Gabrieli’s Canzoni, when well arranged, are idiomatic for any brass ensemble. This arrangement by Mike Forbes of four Canzoni is challenging, especially in regards to endurance in the first euphonium and first tuba parts, but quite musically rewarding. The intricate intertwining of parts is well apportioned, equally sharing the melodic wealth among all four players. The arranger’s notes for this collection suggest these four may be performed individually or as a suite. Either seems musically appealing, however range (Euphonium 1: f-c2, Euphonium 2: d flat-b flat1, Tuba 1: A flat-e flat1, Tuba 2: BB flat-f) may limit the amount of Canzoni to be performed at one time. Level IV.
–Alexander Lapins, DM, Northern Arizona University
Wither must I wander? by Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet by Ross Cohen. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85283. Phone: (480) 823-5874, Fax: (480) 456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. SKU #: 90030. 2010. $14.95.
Ranges: Euphonium I: c to c2, Euphonium II: G to f1, Tuba I: G to e flat1, Tuba II: AA flat to g.
Whither must I Wander? is the seventh song in the cycle “Songs of Travel” based on the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson.Originally published in 1902 for baritone voice and piano, this song is the result of Vaughan Williams’ first venture into song writing. With an andante tempo, this piece has many flowing and melodic lines balanced by accents that punctuate the sections. In a single movement, this beautiful lyrical work in c minor is accessible to most every audience and suitable for college students and professionals alike.
Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958) collected English folk songs and incorporated their simplicity and beauty into many of his own compositions. A student of both violin and piano at the Royal College of Music, his works include symphonies, operas, choral pieces, and film scores. Euphonium player Ross Cohen created this arrangement for the Pennsylvania-based River Bottom Quartet. Ross is a member of that group and a graduate of Penn State University and the University of Georgia. The Euphonix Quartet recorded Cohen’s arrangement of this song on their CD End Game.
The texture of this arrangement is sparse enough to feature individual solo lines while featuring parallel harmonies in the two euphonium parts. Although the melody appears in each part, the first tuba carries most of the melodic lines. The long, lyric lines present some musical challenges for the performers although there are not many technical obstacles. In each part, this piece has generous but not overly taxing ranges (about two octaves). This publication includes measure numbers as well as euphonium parts in both treble and bass clefs. The score and parts are computer-generated and easy to read. Reminiscent of Vaughan Williams’ Six Studies in English Folksong, “Wither Must I Wander” is another beautiful and rewarding work suitable for both study and recital performance.
–Daniel Johnson, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Organ Fugue in G minor by J. S. Bach arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet by Gretchen Renshaw. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. PM 90013. 2011. 11.95.
Tubists who have studied from Douglas Bixby’s Bach for the Tuba books or had a go at Bach’s cello suites and sonatas will understand the dualities of Bach: that the music can appear simple but actually be tremendously challenging and that it can be both aggravating and rewarding to work through. Those who have studied Bach on the tuba and euphonium have likely come away finding that everything else is a little bit easier because of these issues. In arranging Bach’s famous Organ Fugue in G minor, Gretchen Renshaw has added to the low brass repertoire both a study piece that will enhance ensemble precision and a familiar, appealing work for any audience. There is value in studying and performing this work for a large range of ensembles from the advanced high school group, to the collegiate ensemble, all the way up through top professional ensembles.
As expected from a fugue, the melodic content is passed around to all members of the ensemble; there is no place to hide a weak member in the group! The tuba ranges are not extreme, Tuba I ranges from FF-sharp to c1 and Tuba II from FF to d. Both euphonium players will need to have a well-developed high register, with Euphonium I requiring A up to c2 and Euphonium II needing only slightly less, from D to b-flat1. The high range is usually approached stepwise, but remains above the staff long enough to be challenging. The work is probably best performed with a contrabass tuba on the lower part, a bass tuba on the higher part, and at least a four-valve euphonium for the second part to get solidly down to D in a couple of places. That being said, it would be approachable with two contrabass tubas (or two bass tubas with solid low ranges) and two three valve euphoniums, simply moving the two low D’s up an octave. There are no particular rhythmic surprises; the fugue is almost entirely made up of lines at the sixteenth-note or a slower division of quarter note equals 72 beats per minute. Each member of the group will be expected to trill and there are a few pickups of two 32nd notes. Most of the rehearsal time on this work will probably be spent matching articulations and note-lengths within the ensemble, while remaining precisely in-time with one another on moving lines.
–Dr. T. J. Ricer
Linden Lea by Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for euphonium quartet by Ross Cohen. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. 480-823-5874. Fax: 480-456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. Catalogue #212100000192. 2010. $14.95.
The English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams is most well known, at least to the low brass community, as having written the first ever tuba concerto. He was of course much more famous to the rest of the world as a prolific composer and collector of English folk music and songs. What many people may not know is that Vaughan Williams didn’t begin publishing music until he was thirty years old. Linden Lea, written in 1901 and published a year later, was his first publication, and the impetus for a long and successful career.
While originally set for solo voice and piano in the key of G major, Mr. Cohen has moved the key to D-flat major, and arranged this beautiful song for four euphoniums. The Potenza website also notes that this arrangement can be performed by three euphoniums and a tuba. Each of the four parts comes in both bass clef and B-flat treble clef, and the concert pitch range for each of the parts are as follows: euphonium I: a-flat – b-flat1, euphonium II: d-flat – b-flat1, euphonium III: A-flat – b-flat1, euphonium IV: D-flat – e-flat1.
The form of this work is basically strophic, with each strophe in rounded binary. This arrangement contains three strophes, and the arranger does a nice job in varying the texture so as to keep the song from becoming too repetitive. The melody is carried by the first euphonium in the opening with contrapuntal accompaniment in the other three voices. The second section opens with the bottom voice alone, and sees the melody passed between voices while gradually thickening the texture. The third and final strophe, which is marked forte and animato, again gives the first euphonium this stirring melody with accompaniment in the bottom voices, before closing quietly and peacefully.
–Brian Gallion, Southeastern Louisiana University
Latintensity by Hank Levy, arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet and rhythm section by Ryan McGeorge. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. (480) 823-5874. (480) 456-8826. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. 2008. $34.95
Ryan McGeorge was appointed to “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band euphonium section in 2004. Mr. McGeorge has made his version of Latintensity available for tuba-euphonium quartet, including parts for piano, string bass and drums. Latintensity is a Hank Levy work that is synonymous with the Stan Kenton Band; holding true to its title from the opening notes until the last chord, it is a fiery Latin piece, chocked full of virtuosic licks for everyone in the group. Unlike the original, there is no improvising requirement for tubas or euphoniums excluding the rhythm section.
The ranges of the parts are: Euphonium I: c-f2, Euphonium II: c-c2, Tuba I: G-d1, Tuba II: C-bb. All of the euphonium parts are available in treble and bass clefs. The piano, bass and drums parts are included and require the performer to read jazz chord notation with some improvisation. The extreme ranges are prevalent in the principle parts, and require flexibility in the upper range. Rhythmic execution and high endurance is the most demanding aspects of this work. Latintensity is a great, high-energy piece to add at the beginning of a recital, or ending your program with a flourish.
–Stephen Kunzer, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Tubacus Galacticus by Ryan McGeorge for tuba-euphonium quartet and drum set. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. (480) 823-5874. (480) 456-8826. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. 2008. $29.95
Ryan McGeorge was appointed to “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band euphonium section in 2004. Tubacus Galacticus is Ryan McGeorges’ first original composition written for his colleagues in “Off Bass Brass”, which is comprised of Ryan, Mark Jenkins, John Cradler and Tom Holtz. According to McGeorge, “My inspiration behind this piece was to showcase the group’s versatility in a fun way. The overall sound of the piece is derived from a “rock” and “jazz” influence, showing techniques like pitch bend, and utilizing an extended range not commonly expected of low brass instruments.” As McGeorge mentioned, there are several styles that occur throughout. It opens with a simple but hip bass line, and is best described in the opening instructions, “Creepy and Funky… Yet Cute…” It then evolves into the rock influence that McGeorge described, blending rapid melodic figures that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tower of Power or Blood Sweat and Tears tune.
The ranges of the parts are: Euphonium I: Bb-f2, Euphonium II: Bb-b1, Tuba I: D-e-flat1, Tuba II: FF-a-flat. All the euphonium parts are written in treble and bass clefs, and a detailed drum set part is included. During the Swing section, tubas II has the option of improvising his or her bass lines using included chord changes, or play the written out bass lines. The demands for this piece include the ability the play different styles (Rock, Jazz, Funk), play in different meters (4/4, 7/8, 5/4, 2/2, 3/4), and to maintain clarity in the extreme upper ranges of the instrument. Mr. McGeorge has written a very challenging work that is sure to offer the performers and listeners great pleasure and is a very welcome addition to the tuba-euphonium ensemble repertoire.
–Stephen Kunzer, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Brass Quintet/Brass Ensembles
String Quartet No. 4 in D Major, Op. 83 by Dmitri Shostakovich arranged for brass quintet by Paul Erion. Cherry Classics Music. 5462 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6M 3C3 Canada. 604-261-5454. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.cherryclassics.com. CC-2474. 2011. $30.
Paul Erion, tubist with the Philadelphia Opera, has done a marvelous job in delivering a brass quintet arrangement that is as true to Shostakovich’s original string quartet as possible. If you are not familiar with Shostakovich’s writing for string quartets, you may be surprised by the starkness and transparency that characterizes this genre – quite a contrast to Shostakovich’s orchestral writing style. This tendency of his to frequently employ just one or two voices for extended periods may make the piece more difficult for brass quintet, and in this arrangement, that can be particularly felt in the trumpet parts.
Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 4 is known for its Klezmer inspired fourth movement, and you can hear an excerpt of that movement performed by the Mir Quintet on the Cherry Classics website above. Another memorable moment in this quartet is the haunting extreme high register playing in the second movement, which has been retained in the Trumpet I part. To his credit, Erion provides breaks when possible for high brass and in doing so, maintains the intimate scoring. Melodic writing is apparent in all parts, and all ranges are playable by professional caliber musicians, though endurance may be a concern in Trumpet I. The ranges are: Trumpet I in C: g – d3, Trumpet II in C: g – g2, Horn in F (written): a – b-flat2, Trombone A – a-flat1, Tuba: GG – c1.
Paul Erion deserves applause for securing copyright permissions from G. Schirmer for this work that will deliver great musical challenges and rewards.
–Jason Byrnes, University of Northern Colorado
Born With a Hammer by Jonathan Hansen for trombone choir, tubas, and drum set. Potenza Music Publishing. 6115 South Kyrene Road, Suite 103 Tempe, AZ 85283. (480)823-5874. (480)4568826. email@example.com . www.potenzamusic.com. 2011. $36.95.
Born With a Hammer by Jonathan Hansen is based on the myth of John Henry, an American folk hero. The piece derives influence from African American music as well as funk. In the words of Mr. Hansen:
“The program of the piece abstractly follows John Henry’s portent birth, the state of his occupation, the machine’s challenge against his livelihood, his race against said machine, and his victory, which ultimately leads to his death.”
Born With a Hammer was written by Jonathan Hansen for Sergio Carolino’s group, Mr. SC and the Wildbones Gang. There are a total of 13 parts including drum set. Parts and their corresponding ranges are as follows: Trombone 1A: d sharp – c2, Trombone 2A: c – a1, Trombone 3A: c – g sharp1, Trombone 1B: e – a1, Trombone 2B: e flat – g1, Trombone 3B: c – f1, Bass Trombone 1A: E – f1, Bass Trombone 2A: D – e1, Bass Trombone 1B: A – d sharp1, Bass Trombone 2B: C – b flat, Bass Tuba: CC flat – b flat, Contrabass Tuba: CC flat – b. The score comes with two drum set parts, one of which is an alternate. The part designated “Bass Tuba” will probably work best on contrabass tuba due to an extremely low range and an upper end which only extends above the staff once. However, if the player has access to a bass tuba (E flat or F tubas) and has the range dictated in the part, then go for it. The contrasting timbres of bass and contrabass tuba will make an interesting blend with the trombone choir.
The form of Born With a Hammer is ternary with an introduction at a moderate tempo, followed by a faster middle section, then a slower section for the conclusion of the piece. The work is in a single movement. There is a video of a performance of Born With a Hammer on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXNKIDeimVs. The group is the aforementioned Mr. SC and the Wildbones Gang. There are a few special effects involved in the performance of this piece; blowing air with various articulations, glissandi, and mutes. Overall difficulty, due to extended range on most of the parts is level IV. Mr. Hansen is a graduate of the University of Southern California and is currently pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Washington.
–Jeremy Lewis, West Texas A&M University
rangesongs for euphonium or tuba by David Vining. Mountain Peak Music. 2700 Woodlands VillageBlvd. #330-124, Flagstaff, AZ 86001. www.mountainpeakmusic.com. Euphonium: MPM 15-060. Tuba: MPM 16 –060. 2011. $24.95.
This is a book that takes on the challenge of expanding the range of the low brass player in both directions. Sometimes, when we think of range exercises, we are mostly concerned with improving the high range, but as Roger Bobo says, the lower range is “the key to developing a healthy high register.” Mr. Vining has set out here a well reasoned and organized approach to developing both extremes of register.
In his Introduction, Mr. Vining sets out some guidelines that are quite sensible. Do a thorough warm-up before playing these exercises. In the high register, rest as much as you play. Alternate between high and low songs. Do not strain to reach the high notes and if you do find yourself straining, lower the target note by a half step. Focus on moving the air properly: “intense, fast air for the high notes and generous, slow air for the low notes.”
Each “target note” has five etudes. They remind this reviewer of the early studies in the Concone book – primarily half notes and quarter notes that move as scales or arpeggios and are quite diatonic at first. The later etudes of each “target note” get more adventurous. He starts with the note “F”, and the five etudes (in the tuba book) range from FF to f. Then, the next five concentrate on “G flat” and the range is one half – step higher. This continues to what he calls “High F” and ranges from FF to f1. The book then continues with “Pedal G” which goes down to GG without going above the staff. My only quibble with Mr. Vining is his use of terminology here – I’ve never called notes above the fundamental of the given horn “pedal” notes, but he might be thinking of the F tuba here. At any rate, the book ends with five etudes involving the note “CC.”
The euphonium book has been set up along the same lines as the tuba book. In fact, the etudes are the same, only transposed up an octave with some of it in tenor clef for the high range etudes up to “High F” (meaning f2). The euphonium book, however, diverges here by going not to “Low G” as in the tuba book, but to “Low F” (F on our pitch notation guide). These are the same as the tuba etudes with an octave difference, but continue past “Low C” to “Low B” and “Pedal B-flat” (BB-flat).
This is a book that I can heartily recommend as being useful to any student at any level from beginner to professional. We can all stand to increase our range, and this is a sensible method to do so.
–Michael Short, Drake University
A Road Less Traveled CD recording featuring Craig Knox, tuba with Rodrigo Ojeda, piano. Long Tone Music. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.craigknoxtuba.com. LTM-001. $15.
Craig Knox is the Principal Tuba of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and a founding member of the Center City Brass Quintet. In addition to his playing responsibilities Craig Knox teaches at Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne in Pittsburgh. This is Knox’s first solo album, which he released on his own record label, Long Tone Music. One exciting point about this record is that it contains mostly music recorded for the first time besides Plog’s Three Miniatures and Lebedev’s Concert Allegro.
Plog’s Three Miniatures shows the artists freedom and clarity in the fast passages. The artist really excels in the second movement with an almost haunting sound. From this haunting sound the artist and accompanist Rodrigo Ojeda launch into the third movement with an equal drive between the two parts that continues to a spectacular ending through the accelerando section. The Sonata for Tuba and Piano by Anthony DiLorenzo was commissioned Knox’s parents for this recording project. The piece does a great job of highlighting both the performers and the instruments strong points. Knox’s agile and lyrical interpretation does a wonderful job of representing this piece composed by his colleague from Center City Brass Quintet. Hopefully, this work will become a standard in tuba repertoire list. Written for Knox, Wind Cave by David Stock, is another new addition to the tuba repertoire. The artist shows strong solo chops with the unaccompanied piece and is able to do justice to the work. Autumn by John Stevens, Jan Krzywicki’s Ballad, L. Ray Strobel’s Dans Profundo, and “Prelude” from I Masnadieri by Guiseppi Verdi are all played masterfully with attention called to melodic lines and the interplay between the soloist and accompanist. All four compositions are receiving their recording debut on Knox’s recording.
Knox performs the Concert Allegro by Lebedev with great skill and ease of flexibility on his CC tuba. He does an excellent job of producing a big Russian sound on this work, that this author feels should be performed more frequently.
I would highly recommend this recording; Knox does a great job showing both his musical and technical sides of playing. In doing so Craig Knox has produced a very enjoyable CD to listen to. One that presents two standards from the tuba repertoire and a number of compositions that will make an impression on the tuba community to come.
–Michael McLean, DMA Student, University of Arizona
“Three Prayers” on Connections CD Recording by Kim Portnoy recorded by Gerry Pagano. Eight tracks, total duration, 66:41. Available from AAM Recordings. 540 North and South Road, Suite 404, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA. 314-941-6539. email@example.com. www.gerrypagano.org. AAM 110119. 2011. $13.99.
The CD Connections, presented by the St. Louis Low Brass Collective, features tuba and euphonium performances on “Three Prayers” by Kim Portnoy. Personnel on this recording are: James Martin, conductor; Tim Myers, Jon Reycraft, and Vanessa Fralick, trombone; Gerry Pagano, bass trombone; Tom Vincent and Shawna Kuebler, euphonium; Matt Kuebler and Daniel Perantoni, tuba; and Kevin Gianino, drum set. Many are members of the St. Louis Symphony.
The first of three prayers, “Chant,” is an instrumental hallelujah. Portnoy indicates that his inspiration for this movement comes from the South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It contrasts full, tutti sections with lyric tuba and euphonium lines punctuated by muted trombones. Throughout, the effect is celebratory although the mood includes both reflective sections and driving rhythms. For the second prayer, “Lament and Invocation,” Portnoy combines a dirge-like theme with a rock ballad. The opening sounds like a New Orleans funeral march with muted trombones and a slow drum cadence. The second theme presents reflective, lyric lines along with a relaxed drum groove. The title of the third prayer, “Niggun,” is a type of Jewish religious song with repetitive, nonsense syllables. While some nigguns are prayers of lament, this final movement is joyous. In it, Portnoy seeks to express ecstasy and elevate the listener’s spirits. It has contemporary rhythmic elements, combining funk and driving rhythms.
Composer, arranger, and Professor Kim Portnoy directs the music composition program at Webster University. A jazz pianist, Portnoy has had works performed at national and international venues including: the Eastern Summer Trombone Institute in Rochester, New York, the Choral Music Experience Institute in Arvika, Sweden, the Guitar Foundation of America Conference at Oberlin Conservatory, and two International Association of Jazz Educator’s conferences. In addition, Portnoy received two Fiscal Year Creative Artist Project Awards from the Missouri Arts Council and a grant from the Thomas Talbert Foundation.
This recording shows two important aspects of tuba and euphonium performance. One is the way they successfully combine with trombones and drum set for a jazz-inspired sound. The second is the range of energetic and reflective moods they create in compositions such as “Three Prayers.” As recorded on Connections, this piece provides an excellent example of tuba-euphonium timbres in a variety of musical styles for both study and general listening.
–Daniel C. Johnson, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Philadelphia Brass: The Anniversary Album CD recording featuring the Philadelphia Brass. Contact information: Scott Mendoker firstname.lastname@example.org. 201-454-1660. Available through www.philadelphiabrass.com 2011. $17.
I have to be entirely candid and admit that I had not heard of the Philadelphia Brass Quintet. I have to think that the reason is that I live in the wrong part of the country, because they have been around since 1988, and do many residencies. Most of those residencies are in the northeastern U.S., so I’ll use that as my excuse.
This is a group that certainly should be more widely known. The musicians are all well known in their fields. Scott Mendoker, the tubist, is certainly known in ours, and on this recording shows why that is. He is an outstanding musician, with a wonderful sound.
The album is an example of a balanced program. The J.S. Bach cantata Wir eilen mit schwachen BWV 78 shows superlative ensemble playing and the relatively unknown Bolivian motet Cama Iyai Jesus resembles Bach so closely as to be mistaken for his composition. I had never heard a Mozart fugue, but there is one here. Three motets by Brahms are as lushly played as any I’ve ever heard. The modern period is represented by Robert Lichtenberger’s Partita Miniatura , Durufle’s Ubi Caritas and Joseph Turrin’s Fanfare for Five. The last of these I found exciting, but it sounded like it was recorded in a different space (although I’m assured by the liner notes that is not the case).
Aaron Copland’s The Promise of Living segues us to the jazz portion of the album: A String of Pearls, I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, Here’s That Rainy Day and It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing. (My favorite was Rainy Day). After listening to all of this, I came to the conclusion (or a conclusion anyway) that here is a competent group, playing the music well. Not flashy – but musical and finely crafted. Unfortunately, sometimes all we hear of are the flashy ensembles. There are much more than those that deserve our attention.
–Michael Short, Drake University
Going the Distance CD recording featuring Las Tubas De Tucson. www.lastubas.com. 2012. $8.00 plus $2.00 shipping. Ordering instructions are online.
Las Tubas De Tucson is a tuba/euphonium quartet that started in 2009. They won the 2010 ITEC quartet competition and have been invited to perform at the 2012 International Women’s Brass Conference in Kalamazoo, MI. Personnel include Matt Stout and Stacey Garcia, euphoniums; Daniel Brown and Will Houchin, tubas, and for this recording, Adam Ackermann, drums for The Distance. Works on this CD include Allegro from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by W. A. Mozart arranged by Stacey Garcia, Salut D’Amour by Edward Elgar arranged by Gail Robinson, Wind Sketches by Brian Balmages, and The Distance by Greg Brown arranged by Daniel Brown.
This is Las Tubas De Tucson’s first CD. It is purposefully not a full length CD but rather a sampler to get their name out in public that has some very good music on it. Each piece sounds balanced with good intonation, timbre, and excellent musicianship. Of the works, the Wind Sketches and The Distance easily stand out as great original works for this medium. The Wind Sketches movements each capture the “flavor” of each type of wind. In order, they are whirlwind, fremantle doctor, white squall, and vientos y fugas. This work more than any other on the disc shows the true virtuosity of the quartet. The parts are difficult and tricky in many places yet the performance comes off amazingly musical and sonically satisfying. Likewise, The Distance is another challenging work as it has rap elements and an insistent ostinato bass line with accompaniment that was expertly arranged by quartet member Daniel Brown from an earlier rock work. The original work can be found on YouTube. I performed the narration at the Southwest Regional Conference in 2011 but this recorded version has the quartet members taking turns with the narration. It is a great arrangement that is sure to be popular with many quartets. The other two works on the CD are traditional arrangements that are played quite well and show the quartet’s staying power with their versatility in interpreting different styles of literature.
I have high hopes this quartet will continue to look for opportunities to perform and tour as well as taking on the challenge of recording a full CD recording in the future. Congratulations on an excellent first step.
–Mark Nelson, Pima Community College