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TUBA CARNIVAL
Øystein Baadsvik
Tuba Carnival

Øystein BAADSVIK (b. 1966) Fnugg (2002) [3:24]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) L’Inverno (Winter) from The Four Seasons [8:28]
Edvard Hagerup GRIEG (1843-1907) Anitra’s Dance (1874-1875) [3:27]
Arild PLAU (b. 1920) Concerto for Tuba and Strings (1990) [17:54]
Edvard Hagerup GRIEG (1843-1907), arr. Øystein BAADSVIK (b. 1966) Norwegian Dance No. 1 [4:51]
Traditional arr. Staffan LUNDEN-WELDEN (b. 1964) Kesh Jig [3:35]
Thomas STEVENS (b. 1938) Variations in Olden Style (d’après Bach) (1989) [5:16]
Jean-Baptiste ARBAN (1825-1889), arr. Anna BAADSVICK Carnival of Venice [7:41]
Vittorio MONTI (1868-1922), arr. Øystein BAADSVIK (b. 1966) Csárdás [4:25]
Musica Vitae (leader: Dorota Siuda)/Bjorn Sagstad
Recorded at Furuby Church, Sweden on 9-14 June, 2002 DDD
BIS-CD-1285 [61:19]

 

Have you ever seen an elephant dance the ballet? Can you imagine such a thing being done with grace, elegance, exuberance, and skill? Perhaps at the end of the dance, the elephant changed into its tuxedo and split a bottle of wine over a delightful dessert as well.

This might seem a ridiculous reinterpretation of Disney’s classic Fantasia, or the beginning of a somewhat long-winded joke. If so, you understand the skepticism and trepidation with which I approached Tuba Carnival, the latest disc by Øystein Baadsvik. Surely, I thought, I was not expected to take a collection of both traditional and modern symphonic works rearranged for solo tuba seriously, was I? After all, while I have heard some virtuosic performances on the tuba, they mostly were done somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The Canadian Brass’s "Flight of the Tuba Bee", while somewhat amazing, is not really a serious work after all.

The first track on this CD did little to change my opinion, though it was interesting. Baadsvik wrote the work himself to highlight his multiphonic capabilities (the ability to sing and play a wind instrument at the same time) and to show the experimental side of the tuba. Many of the sounds are very interesting, and reminiscent of didgeridoo recordings by David Hudson. However, while the work is interesting and entertaining, it was again a virtuosic novelty piece: something both good and enjoyable, but not really moving or beautiful.

However, the rest of this CD was something quite different. The tuba beautifully highlighted as a solo instrument in ways that one would not expect. Its depth and warmth of tone reminded me time and again of the best vocal baritones. This music is not a joke: the modern works take full advantage of what I soon realized was a horribly underutilized instrument, capable of so much more than the traditional works would lead us to believe. No oom-pah polkas would find their way here: instead the listener finds a rich lyricism exploring the works of Vivaldi and Grieg. The arrangements by both Øystein Baadsvik and his wife Anna are fine examples of the best of musical reinvention. The original works for tuba by Plau and Stevens prove that the tuba is not only a viable solo instrument, but a fairly magnificent one. The acrobatic displays amount to an elephant pirouetting gracefully, and then showing the refinement and class to join you for a nice bottle of wine and desert.

If you are a tuba player yourself, you cannot pass on this album: it simply must be in your collection. If you are not, this is a good album, and a very pleasant surprise, worthy of any collection.

Patrick Gary

 



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