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Nothing But Tuba
Trio 21meter60
rec. 17-20 August 2020, Bethanienkirche Leipzig.
GENUIN GEN21753 [57:59]

21 meters 60 centimeters is the length of the tubes of the three tubas in this highly enjoyable recording, hence the name Trio 21meter60. I’ve long had an affection for off-beat brass recordings, and this one reminded me a little of Arkady Shilkloper’s album Zum Gipfel und zurück (review). Ostensibly low instruments often have a mellifluous mid and lyrical upper range when played well, and listeners need have no fears of badly-defined and muffled rumblings when it comes to Trio 21meter60 in their debut CD. The sound here is mellow and easy on the ear, but at the same time there is plenty of well-defined rhythmic playing in the more up-beat numbers, the opening Deep Energy by Nico Smitz included.

Occasional percussion is introduced here and there, such as with this virtuoso version of Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango, but the balance of sound is always well maintained, and drums and cymbals underpin the trio’s already rock-solid sense of timing. This is a well-chosen programme, with some nicely arranged Baroque music. Monteverdi’s Canzonette a tre voci are easy pickings for this kind of group, but Corelli’s Variations on ‘La Folia’ are always going to be fairly demanding on a wind consort, and these players acquit themselves with aplomb.

There is a wide variety of style in the music for this programme, and there is clear intent to define these differences while admitting that this is one of the challenges of technique. There is warm sentimentality in Raymond Premru’s Felicity and the famous Danny Boy, which contrasts with the witty swing of Daniel Schnyder’s treatment of Prokofiev in his Romeo and Julia Variations. Nico Samitz is a composer who has worked enthusiastically in broadening the trio’s repertoire, and his light touch and affinity with three tubas is well evidenced in YouTuba. A Moment for Morricone takes the form of a reasonably effective pot-pourri of some of his best known movie themes, complete with wailing harmonica, tubular bells and other effects. Joe Zawinul’s classic Birdland works surprisingly well with the drum skills of Severin Stizenberger, and the final piece is a celebratory farewell, Von Freund zu Freund by Martin Scharnagl.

All in all this well-produced recording has to be considered a great success, with musical values that take it beyond mere novelty value. After laying out their wares in this way one has to ask ‘what next?’ for Trio 21meter60, but this is merely a question of imagination, and there seems to be no shortage of that from this source.

Dominy Clements


Nico SAMITZ (b. 1992)
Deep Energy [3:12]
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643)
From: Canzonetta a tre voci
Qual si può dir [1:08]
Raggi dov'è il mio bene [1:59]
Quando sperai [1:26]
La fiera vista [2:29]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Libertango* [3:42]
Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Variationen über "La Follia", Op 5 No 12 [7:36]
Raymond PREMRU (1934-1998)
Two Pieces for Three Trombones
Felicity [2:31]
Episode [2:32]
Daniel SCHNYDER (b. 1961)
Romeo and Julia Variations* [4:00]
YouTuba [6:26]
Irisches Volkslied
A Londonderry Air (Danny Boy) [2:47]
Ennio MORRICONE (1928-2020)
Moment for Morricone* [7:42]
Schumacher Marsch [2:10]
Josef ZAWINUL (1932-2007)
Birdland [3:29]
Martin SCHARNAGL (b. 1988)
Von Freund zu Freund* [4:43]

Trio 21meter60: Constantin Hartwig, Steffen Schmid, Fabian Neckermann (tubas)
Severin Stizenberger (percussion)*

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