Once again Crystal Records casts its capacious net and lands
some fish. The tuba and piano combination is not one that immediately
brings to mind many imperishable masterpieces but this disc runs
the gamut of stylistic affiliations to produce some intriguing
examples of the genre - and also not of the genre.
For example the disc actually kicks off with Sam Pilafian’s Relentless
Grooves II: Armenia
which is written for Tuba and pre-recorded
accompaniment. The opening is indeed striking - saturnine and
compelling. Then the second of the four brief movements encompasses
Armenian folkloric writing - plenty of percussion and rhythmically
intriguing melodic lines in the terpsichorean music-making. The
third movement is a lament and hits plangent depths before a
finale - with the same effect as the second movement - sweeps
us along grandly.
The original of Jorge Salgueiro’s Concerto for Tuba
written for wind ensemble. Actually the piece is written cONCERTO
fOR tUBA in that maddeningly silly way some composers have of
plastering their works. Still once past lower and upper case
things improve. There are Harley like rumblings here, fast and
surprisingly nimble, and multiphonics in the cadenza (yes, it’s
actually a cADENZA). The multiphonics actually work well and
so too does the really lovely slow movement, rich like a pop
song, before abruptly seguing into a virile and exciting finale.
Frank Zappa’s Outside Now Again
was written for
solo tuba back in 1984 - a fast lipped virtuosic statement. Juraj
Filas meanwhile composed his Sonate later, in 1991, and it’s
a far more extended piece. It ranges from neo-classical strength
to piano stasis and quietude. The piano writing at some moments
is almost Janáček-like. The jousts between the tuba
and the piano are exciting, but the main trajectory of this quarter
of an hour work is to a gradual dreamlike slowing up and reverie,
and it achieves that end with real accomplishment.
is a commissioned examination
piece for solo tuba - full of jazzy articulation and testing
lip work. Finally Elizabeth Raum’s Tribute
beautiful song, poignantly conceived and ravishingly well played.
Splendid performances then are allied to good sound and an eclectic,
never off-putting repertoire.