ITEA Journal Volume 43 Number 3 (Spring 2016)
Materials Received Nov. 1- Feb. 1 with thanks:
For Then and Now CD recording featuring the Western Brass Quintet
Reviewed in this issue:
A New Day for two euphoniums by Franz Cibulka. Potenza Music Publishing. 13040 Eastgate Park Way, Suite 108, Louisville, KY 40223. Fax: 502-365-1431. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. SKU #: 80166. 2015. $19.95.
A New Day for two euphoniums was composed by the amazing Austrian composer Franz Cibulka. Franz served as the Professor of Clarinet, Music Theory, and Chamber Music at the Johann Joseph Fux Conservatory in Graz until 2002. For the past 14 years, he has worked as a full-time composer who has written for many mediums including numerous works for tuba and euphonium. Some of the most demanding music that I have ever encountered has been composed by this captivating composer. Most Cibulka works require a 5-octave range (or more) and you better get your "groove" on! Although A New Day seems more accessible with a range that will allow many players to play it well, it still necessitates the typical requirements needed to play his music: ability to play fast, agility in the upper AND lower registers, and precision.
Consistent with most of his works, Franz has the ability to create "equal" roles for each part. The ranges are almost identical for both euphoniums. The second part may be the most demanding due to the more frequented lower register playing. Although they are not labeled as "titled movements," A New Day has three contrasting movements. The first movement is an exhilarating test of "trust" for your duo partner as you trade back and forth between lead and supporting roles. The second movement is a romantic waltz that once again requires "trust" as you pass lines back and forth to each other. The third movement begins with a medium paced compound meter that eventually leads to the "Cibulka groove." His ability to take a single line and share it equally makes playing his music fun for ALL players no matter how many parts he writes. This movement should be titled "meet me at the end!"
Remaining reliable with all other fine publications of Potenza Music, the layout and paper quality of the music are excellent. Bass clef and B-flat treble clef parts are included.
Advanced Tuba Studies Vol.2 by John Paff. Cimarron Music Press. 15 Corrina Lane, Salem, CT 06420. (860) 536-2185. Fax (888) 235-1772. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.cimmaronmusic.com. CM 2610 2015. $18.
Thanks to Google I can say with some certainty that John Paff is a tubist and composer living in West Virginia. As a teacher and still learning tubist, I am always looking for etude books that will provide musical challenge and reward. It is exciting to see a new generation of composers producing etude books which might, in time, stand along with the likes of Kopprasch and Blazhevich.
Advanced Tuba Studies Vol. 2 contains studies number 41-80. The table of contents lists key signature, meter, and etude concentration for each etude, as they are a widely varied grab bag of styles and colors. Nothing is held back in terms of extremes of key signature and technique needed to successfully navigate the challenges set forth. My college level students have enjoyed playing "pick a number between…" in masterclass as a sight-reading endeavor, and these etudes keep them humble. Another positive aspect of this book is that each etude covers one page, no more. That is a refreshing change from some other books where the later etudes get longer and longer while still just repeating the same material. The only drawback in presentation is that there is no particular order, so you can either flip pages or search table of contents to find something that catches your eye and ear. This book would find a good home in any college teaching studio or serious students library.
The main thing I want after reviewing and testing volume 2 is my own copy of John Paff Advanced Tuba Etudes Vol.1.
Suite in One Movement for tuba by Ben Miles. Potenza Music Publishing. 13040 Eastgate Park Way, Suite 108. Louisville, KY 40223. Fax: (502) 365-1431. email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. 2015. $21.95.
Ben Miles (b. 1974) is currently Associate Professor of Tuba at Middle Tennessee State University. Previously, he taught at Wright State University and the University of Central Arkansas. With a long list of accolades as a performer, Ben has garnered attention for his compositions. His Contraptions for solo tuba appeared on the Falcone Artist Tuba repertoire list, the International Competition "Citta di Porcia," as well as ITEA regional conference competition lists. Ben's recent composition, the Suite in One Movement for tuba and piano, is a welcome addition to the repertoire.
Designed for younger players, this composition does not sacrifice musicality or compositional diversity. The piece functions like a three-movement work presented as one large movement. There are ample opportunities for the tubist to rest as the piece flows from the beginning to the end. This suite opens with a brief slow introduction in the piano that presents the main theme of the work. Following this opening section, the tuba and piano engage in a dialogue based on the introductory material. From a rhythmic perspective, this first section alternates between duple meter and compound meter with the eighth note remaining constant. This first section goes as low as FF and as high as c 1. Marked adagio with gentle, wave-like triplet patterns in the piano, the second section requires lyrical and expressive playing from the tubist. The tuba's melody is chiefly in duple meter, but the melody frequently incorporates borrowed divisions with quarter-note triplets. Furthermore, the tuba melody performs dotted eighth-sixteenth rhythms against the piano's triplets, so ensuring clarity between the two voices is a concept younger players could work on. This middle section begins and ends with the piano, yet again allowing a player to have time off the face. To close the suite, the third section is dance-like music at a moderate tempo, which eventually shifts to a presto tempo marking. In F minor, the tuba melody ranges from FF to c1 here, and the melody calls for consistently varied articulations. After establishing the dance-like theme, the tuba states another related theme comprising long tones at the top of the bass clef staff. This music would be well suited for the younger player wanting to keep their tone consistent from the bottom of the instrument to the top.
This Suite in One Movement balances lyrical playing with technique and is excellent recital material for younger undergraduates or high school students. Based on range and overall complexity, this is a Level III-IV work. The piano part is straightforward, the composition is approximately 9 minutes long, and the tuba's range remains between FF and c1.
Brass Quintet/Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble/Chamber Music
A Moving Sea Between the Shores for brass quintet by Ben Kon. Wehr's Music House. 3533 Baxter Drive. Winter Park, FL 32792 (407) 679-1913. www.wehr's-music-house.com . WM #453. 2014. $12.00
A Moving Sea Between the Shores by Ben Kon, is a very nice three section piece depicting a journey across the sea. The first section has a quiet, flowing feeling. The repeated phrase in the tuba part is the background for the melodic material in the trumpet at rehearsal eleven. Flowing eighth note parts give one the sense of the floating on the waves with the dynamics going from soft to loud as well. The second section has a quicker feel, almost like one is going through an ocean storm. Accented parts in the low brass help support this storm, with the upper brass creating a feeling of angst amongst the crew. The end of this section is a return to the flowing melodies, but the pace is still quick. The last section brings one back to the original tempo and flowing material. --Paul Loucas, Band Teacher, U-46 School District
Bald Eagle March for brass quintet by Jeff Frost. Cor Publishing Company distributed by Wiltshire Music Company. 204 Toronto Ave. Masssapequa, NY 11758. (516)541-6488. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.wiltshire.com. No price specified.
The Bald Eagle March by Jeff Frost is a wonderful 6/8 march for a young brass quintet. The beginning of the march steps off to a Liberty Bell like introduction followed by the first theme in the trumpets. The second section of this march, at letter A, has the theme in the tuba with a nice counter melody in the trumpet. This is quickly followed by the 2nd trumpet, horn and trombone in a nice trio.
At letter B the middle section of the march becomes loud and exciting. The melody has returned to the trumpets. There is also a nice triplet run in the horn part.
At letter C the trombone takes over the melodic material, eventually going into a familiar trio in the low brass instruments. Letter D is a return to the thematic material from letter B, which drives us to the exciting ending of the piece. --Paul Loucas, Band Teacher, U-465 Public Schools
Five Carols for brass quintet arranged by Michael Kibbe. Potenza Music Publishing. 13040 Eastgate Park Way, Suite 108, Louisville, KY 40223. Fax: (502) email@example.com. www.potenzamusic.com. 60045. 2014. $24.95.
Michael Kibbe is a composer and freelance woodwind performer who has over 220 concert works in his catalogue including wind and string chamber works and works for band and orchestra. This arrangement of five Christmas carols for brass quintet is a very accessible, playable addition to the repertoire for a good high school or young college quintet. The ranges are not exceptionally difficult - the upper ranges indicated are infrequent and most of the writing for all the parts is in their respective staves with the tuba obviously going below the staff at times. The choice of carols provides some opportunity both duple and triple meter. Several different key areas are used - and some changes occur within the carols - but they are reasonable for the level and range from A flat major to D major. Each part contains interesting, idiomatic writing so it is not just a melody with accompaniment. There are times when the arrangement is fairly homophonic in texture and times when the parts need to be able to play independently. An indication on the tuba part states that it could be played by bass trombone and so is occasionally written in octaves that would accommodate that allowance. The medley consists of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," "Bring a Torch Jeanette, Isabella," "Good King Wenceslaus," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and "Joy to the World."
Homage for quartet or ensemble of euphoniums and tubas by James Grant. Potenza Music Publishing. 13040 Eastgate Park Way, Suite 108, Louisville, KY 40223. Fax: 502-365-1431. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. (860) 536-2185. Fax: (888) 235- 1772. email@example.com. www.cimarronmusic.com. SKU #: 80167. 2015. $19.95.
One of the most treasured composer/friends of the tuba and euphonium community is composer James Grant. His writing usually matches the ability levels of advanced and professional players. His writing is often acrobatic and is always fun to play! His recent work, Homage, for quartet or a combination of euphoniums and tubas, is one of the most "mellow" works of his that I have encountered. A glance at the music reveals the inner beauty that is likely required to perform this work correctly.
Homage was commissioned by the Eufonix Quartet (Danny Helseth, Aaron Tindall, Kelly Thomas, and Pat Stuckemeyer). It was premiered at the 2015 Northeast Regional Tuba Euphonium Conference and is No. 6 in James Grant's "Songs Without Words Commissioning Consortium." The meaning of the word "Homage" according to www.dictionary.reference.com is: "honor…tribute, fidelity, loyalty, and devotion." These exact words are what James uses to describe his "simple melody."
When learning the music of James Grant there is usually something that you take "home" from the experience. His Homage will demand patience due to the "gentle, meditative, fluid" tempo of (quarter note = 60) and confidence due to the challenges of performing a work with a dynamic range of pianissimo to mezzo piano. I have graded this work as a level II-III due to the above characteristics as well as the impeccable pitch and pulse that will be required to effectively perform this work.
Homage should invite a varied maturity level among players who perform it with ranges that should prove to be accessible by many musicians! Consistent with all other fine publications of Potenza Music, the layout and paper quality of the music are excellent. Bass clef and B-flat treble clef parts are included.
Sonate for Two Euphoniums & Tuba by Johann Joachin Quantz arranged by Vasile Babusceac. Absolute Brass. www.absolutebrass.com. AB TBT 1. 2013. $14.95
The flute music of Johann Joachin Quantz has always served as a great source of transcription material for low brass instruments that need repertoire from the Baroque era. This transcription by Vasile Babusceac, a tubist and prolific arranger from the Republic of Moldova, is a great example of this seamless transition from source material to a great low brass trio. It is not without its challenges however; the range requirements for the first euphonium part reach some of the limits for many intermediate euphonium players while the second and tuba part lay pretty well within the reach of many players. This should not discourage musicians from looking at this work because it is a wonderful addition to the repertoire. Both bass and treble clef parts are also provided to allow alternate instruments to perform the first or second part if desired.
Jötunn for tuba-euphonium quartet by Jesse McConnell. Absolute Brass. 1777 Vista Trace, Decatur, GA 30033. Fax: (662) 796-7881. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.absolutebrass.com. AB TBQ 11. 2013. $19.95.
Jesse McConnell, a University of North Texas graduate tuba student, has become an active composer and arranger of tuba music published through Absolute Brass. This new composition, titled Jötunn, borrows its name from a race of giants in Norse mythology. It is scored for two euphoniums and two tubas. McConnell specifies that a bass tuba should cover the first tuba part, and that a contrabass tuba should play the second tuba part. The two euphonium parts come in bass clef only. Jötunn begins with a slow yet bold introduction before transitioning to the fast, rhythmic material. Characterized by ostinato and short motives, the first fast section is imitative among all four voices and uses sharp dissonances. The tuba parts must play detached quarter notes in three octaves, spanning from the pedal range to the top of the bass clef staff. To vary texture, the composer changes the combinations of instruments, but then pulls all four voices together to punctuate the ends of sections that transition to new ones. In the middle of the piece, the tubas play a rather triumphant melody in octaves that eventually all four players perform at the climax of the work.
In the middle section marked mournful, the euphoniums and first tuba play a sustained, chorale-like melody above an undulating sixteenth-note passage in the second tuba. With room for rubato, this section is in direct contrast to the outer portions of the composition. It is also more consonant, featuring more major and minor triads. After this relaxed, lyrical section, the dal segno takes the music back to the faster and more rhythmic beginning. Upon arrival at the coda, one would think the piece has arrived at a peaceful, serene segment, but instead there is an exchange of solo lines in the second euphonium and first tuba heard over sustained tones in other voices. This solo segment is quasi recitative and affords players the opportunity to inject their own ideas into the solo lines.
After a fff unison statement of the previously stated triumphant melody, Jötunn moves to what will seem like a reprise of the opening of the work. The four parts interact just as they do at the outset of the piece, but then the tempo winds down in the tuba parts. The ear is immediately surprised by the one-bar finale stated at a ffff dynamic. Based on the range for the parts and the complexity, this work is a Level IV. It would work well for an undergraduate tuba-euphonium quartet recital or as part of a studio recital. The range for the individual parts include Euphonium I: G-b-flat1, Euphonium II: G-d1, Tuba I: DD-sharp-d-sharp1, Tuba II: CC-b-flat1.
Bitter Human recording featuring Evil Genius. Orenda Records. 1895 Heidleman Road, Los Angeles, CA 90032. (323)696-5780. www.orendarecords.com. Orenda 0022. 2015. Digital purchase $9.99. CD Purchase $14.99.
Bitter Human is the debut album from trio Evil genius, headed by guitarist Max Kutner of the Zappa-alumni band, The Grande Mothers of Invention, tubist Stephan Kac, and drummer Mike Lockwood. Bitter Human is an album that defies convention, any attempt to define it results in a fruitless exercise of listing the many genres that show themselves at one point or another. An exercise that will, nonetheless, attempt to do exactly that for the purpose of this review.
The opening track, Blind Elephant's Green Felt Jungle Dance, is a self-described "ode to overstimulation of first walking into a casino". Here, we are immediately assaulted by a cacophony of rhythm and sound in what may described as stream-of-consciousness surf rock mated with a mutated theme from West Side Story; the genre listing is inescapable. It is acceptable prologue for what remains in the following tracks. As foil to the opening, Juke Prompt is, on the surface, a much more straightforward track. The catchy gospel-inspired theme eventually disintegrates into experimentation, solos given in turn by each member of the trio. Ultimately, we find our way back to the opening theme, albeit in a more frantic state. Another Ale for the Gesture Urn begins with a lovely ballad, beautifully played by tubist Stefan Kac, before morphing into an ominous, unison duet with guitarist Max Kutner, by way of an impromptu foray into a swinging dance-band number. Secondary Air, much like the opening track, is another frenetic assault on our senses. Rapid and angular counterpoint, structurally enhanced by drummer Mike Lockwood, eventually gives way to a brief and virtuosic solo display by Kac. One of the more traditional tracks, For No Particular Reason, follows; the overwhelming sensory input of the previous track is replaced by an acoustic guitar and lilting tuba bassline. Here exists, quite possibly, the most cohesive track on Bitter Human; an album that thrives on contradiction and contrast, its very existence at the mid-point of the album, a contrast. Vamp for Lennay Kekua is an ostinato that is rhythmically mutated by mixing meters as well as having the values diminished and hurried at a frantic pace.
Evil Genius' Bitter Human is a study of contrast and experimentation. The nature of the genre combinations on Bitter Human, will entice lovers of experimental music, avant-garde, jazz, as well as fans of art and prog-rock the most. That's not to say that there isn't something for everyone on the album; like the cliché about weather, if you don't like it at one moment, wait five minutes, and it will change. With undeniable creativity and virtuosity, the spontaneous, sudden, and schizophrenic shifting between these many styles is what makes Bitter Human such a unique addition to the library. --Dr. Jon Fowler, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
For Then and Now CD recording featuring the Western Brass Quintet. Summit Records. P.O. Box 26850, Tempe, AZ 85285-6850. (800) 808-4449 order line only. email@example.com. www.summitrecords.com. DCD 665. 2015. $12.99.
For then and Now is the latest recording released by the Western Brass Quintet. Following in the tradition of their previous recordings this CD focuses primarily on new repertoire, most of which was commissioned by the group. The Western Brass Quintet has been in existence since 1966, making it one of the longest standing active brass quintets in the United States. The group is a resident faculty ensemble at Western Michigan University. Committed to promoting the creation of new original works for brass quintet, the group has commissioned composers such as Karel Husa and Elgar Howarth to write for the group.
This recording contains six pieces four of which were either commissioned or co-commissioned by the Western Brass Quintet. The first piece and title track, For Then and Now was written by Laurence Bitensky for the WBQ and was dedicated to Vince DiMartino who is a colleague of his at Centre College. The piece is through composed with two distinct and contrasting musical ideas.
Four Monteverdi Madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi is the only "non-contemporary" piece on the recording and is arranged by WBQ trombonist Daniel Mattson. The original editions of these compositions didn't include many music markings such as dynamics, tempi, and articulation marks. In this arrangement, Mattson added these musical directions by using the original text as a guide.
Brass Quintet by Pierre Jalbert was commissioned by the WBQ to celebrate the Western Music University School of Music 100th anniversary and was premiered in 2013. The piece is written in two contrasting movements.
A Flying Circus by David Colson is another piece that was premiered by the WBQ. The piece was written in honor of Colson's percussion teacher Jerry Hartweg of the Interlochen Arts Academy. David Colson is a professor of composition at WMU. The piece consists of one movement and takes inspirations from Hartweg's love of airplanes and magic tricks.
Suite Imprmptu by André LaFosse was originally written for three trombones, this arrangement for brass quintet was published posthumously in 1996. This four movement work is much lighter in nature than the other repertoire on the recording. A more general audience would probably relate more to this piece than other pieces on the album.
The final work on the album is Distant Dancing by Richard Peaslee in 1992 which is another through composed piece with two contrasting musical ideas. All of the pieces on this album are about ten minutes or longer in length and are all quite serious in nature. The repertoire on this album would be very appropriate for formal chamber music concerts and the playing is enjoyable to listen to. Congratulations to the Western Brass Quintet on another fine release of new music.
Praxis CD recording featuring Brian Meixner, euphonium. Potenza Music Publishing. 13040 Eastgate Park Way, Suite 108. Louisville, KY 40223. Fax: (502) 365-1431. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.potenzamusic.com. 2013. $16.95.
Brian Meixner is an active soloist, conductor, and educator, currently on the faculty at High Point University. Additionally, he is the founder, music director, and president of the newly formed North Carolina Brass Band. Praxis is Brian's most recent album, one that displays the euphonium's technical and lyrical prowess when combined with the varied timbres of the percussion ensemble. Percussionist and composer Nathan Daughtrey, also on faculty at High Point University, wrote some of the pieces on the album. Other selections include works by Stephen Barr, David Cutler, Daniel Adams, Fernando Deddos, and even the standard Four Dialogues for Euphonium and Marimba by Samuel Adler. Overall, this is an attractive recording of pieces for the combination of euphonium and percussion. Brian's rich, full tone complements the mellow timbre of the marimba, thus making the listening experience that much more enjoyable.
The album opens with Ethereal Wave, composed by Stephen Barr, and grabs your attention with the very first note. Brian's ability to wail over the percussion instruments while still retaining his core tone quality is remarkable. His sound, coupled with a tasteful vibrato, makes this first track a real crowd pleaser. David Cutler's El Alacrán features the pairing of euphonium with the cajon and maracas. The demanding euphonium part requires a rich and present pedal register, and the energetic writing for the percussion instruments creates a sense of forward motion. The aria-like middle section is especially pleasing since it contrasts the outer sections.
Daniel Adams, Professor of Composition at Texas Southern University, wrote the next track, the impressive Concerto for Euphonium and Percussion Quintet. With its rather ominous opening, the listener is brought in by the many ways with which the euphonium interacts with the quintet. There are solitary euphonium calls interspersed throughout the texture, and Brian sells every single musical idea with nuance and care. At about eight minutes in length, this piece is packed with diverse writing for all instruments involved. Daughtrey's Spitfire is a tour-de-force for the euphonium soloist, and Brian handles the technical and musical challenges with ease and finesse. The solo line traverses a wide range of the euphonium, from pedal notes to high C-sharps. What is striking about this track is the seamless manner in which the performers present character and mood changes.
Praxis, the title track by Fernando Deddos, means translating an idea into action. The performers feel this is the perfect label for the project as it summarizes the multi-year process of commissioning new music, collaborating, and eventually organizing their available resources to create a final product. Deddos, a euphonium soloist himself, wrote a piece that displays the euphonium's innately lyrical tone. Brian performs with such sensitivity and nuance throughout the entire track. As the piece proceeds, the euphonium soloist's technical demands increase, as well as the rhythmic complexity. What is especially noteworthy is yet again Brian's and the percussion quintet's ability to complement each other's sounds and the ways in which they weave together independent musical ideas.
Commissioned by TUBA, now ITEA, Samuel Adler's Four Dialogues for Euphonium and Marimba has been in our repertoire since 1974. It was the organization's first commission for euphonium, and Adler was drawn to the mellow timbres of both the euphonium and marimba. The first movement is slow and improvisatory. Brian oozes musicality in every melodic line, and the marimba playing provides the perfect backdrop for the scene. In contrast to the first movement, the second movement contains sweeping, angular lines for the euphonium soloist, which Brian performs with clarity and direction in all ranges of the instrument. The third movement is perhaps the most contrasting, as it is dream-like and demands sensitive playing in the upper register of the euphonium. The euphonium and marimba playing here truly bring out the best in each other. To conclude, the Four Dialogues ends with the most rhythmically active sounding music. The euphonium's melodic lines cover a wide playing range, and Brian emphasizes every dramatic moment possible.
The album closes with another composition by Nathan Daughtrey, Coming Home. The version on this CD, for euphonium and percussion quintet, was created specifically for Brian Meixner and the Gate City Percussion. Borrowing its title from the hymn "Lord, I'm Coming Home," by William Kirkpatrick, the composition's principal melodic motives are derived from the tune and are heard throughout. There is even a full statement of the hymn toward the end of the work. Coming Home contains three major sections, the first of which is subtitled "fear and anxiety." As an unaccompanied soloist, the performer movingly reflects the feeling of being lost or alone. The percussion ensemble accompaniment varies from sparse to sounding rather full and lush. "Courage and strength," the second section of the work, incorporates ascending motives comprising rising fourths and fifths. Brian's sustained, resonant tone mirrors the courage and strength intended by the composer. The final section, marked "peace, acceptance, and hope," features more expressive writing for the vibraphones with smooth, soft, and sustained writing in the euphonium. As a voice of experience, I can say this closing section is a study in soft, beautiful playing, which Brian executes beautifully and easily.
I cannot say enough positive things about this recording by Brian Meixner and Nathan Daughtrey. Comprising both new and familiar repertoire, players of any level should listen to this CD. Daughtrey's compositions offer attractive writing for the euphonium, exploring the solo instrument's tone quality and ability to blend with other instruments. Perhaps even more important is that this album can serve as a reminder that there is indeed quality repertoire out there for the euphonium in chamber music. I expect more recordings in the future from the Meixner and Daughtrey duo. --Dr. Chris Dickey, Washington State University
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