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Check out these MUSIC Reviews from the International Tuba and Euphonium Association Journal!
“Dio Che Nell Alma Infondere” from Don Carlo, by Giusepe Verdi transcribed for tuba-euphonium duo with piano accompaniment by Joe Kreines. Gar Music, 6772 Goldeneye Drive, Orlando, Fl., 32810. www.symbiosisduo.com. 2009. 2:00. $12.
This song is a duet between Rodrigue, the Marquis of Posa, and the title character from the Verdi’s opera Don Carlos. This grand opera in five acts is based on a story involving European royalty in the sixteenth century. Verdi (1813–1901) premiered this work at the Paris Opera in 1867. In this piece, the two men swear eternal friendship. The English translation of the lyrics best express the sentiment of this piece: “Oh God, who wished to instill love and hope in our souls, Thou must kindle within our hearts a desire for liberty; Thou must kindle within our hearts a desire for liberty; We swear to live and die together.”
As implied by the lyrics of this song, the euphonium and tuba parts are frequently in close harmony. The harmonic material includes frequent parallel thirds as well as some contrary motion and echo effects. In keeping with Verdi’s romantic tradition, there are frequent dynamic swells, fermatas, tempo changes, and various articulations to increase the dramatic effects of this piece. Supported by a piano accompaniment in this arrangement, the duet treats both parts equally. The range of each part is not overly demanding, but the tuba part seems to hover in a rather high tessitura, at the top of the bass clef for most of this piece. Overall, the range spans just over three octaves, B to c2, including the optional high C on the final duet chord.
Veteran composer, arranger, and conductor Joe Kreines transcribed this song for SymbiosisDuo as part of their sheet music collection. SymbiosisDuo is comprised of Stacy Baker, tuba, and Gail Robertson, euphonium. Dr. Baker is a professor of music at Morehead State University and a founding member of the tuba-euphonium quartet Junction, while Ms. Robertson is the tuba-euphonium instructor at the University of Central Florida and a founding member of Walt Disney World’s Tubafours.
The piano, tuba, and euphonium parts are computer-generated and clear. Both bass and treble clef versions of the euphonium part are provided. Rehearsal letters are included for performers’ convenience. The individual parts are somewhat challenging, especially when players strive for the most musical performance. This duo would be appropriate for players at the collegiate level and beyond. With a unified sound, this duo would add a beautiful and romantic element to any recital program.
~Daniel Johnson, University of North Carolina Wilmington
I Got Your Bach by J. S. Bach arranged for euphonium and tuba by Chris Sharp. Gar Music. 6772 Goldeneye Drive, Orlando, Fl. 32810. www.symbiosisduo.com. 2009. $12.
When I received many of the compositions recorded by SymbiosisDuo for the New Materials column, I could not help wanting to review at least one of them myself. This little gem is a cool rendition of Bach’s Two-Part Invention No. 4 in F major starting and ending in a straight setting with a swinging middle section expertly arranged by Chris Sharp. It is not for the average duo as the euphonium range extends into the treble clef with a total range of C to c-sharp1 and lies above the bass clef for entire sections of the arrangement (a treble clef version is available). The tuba part is no less nimble but has a smaller range of GG to b-flat making it accessible to the larger tubas. It is fun to play and sounds great as a duet. I plan on taking it for a spin on my yearly faculty recital with my good friend and colleague Kelly Thomas. The typeset is clean with a plastic spiral comb binding. The page turns are challenging and really work best if the pages are all laid out and taped together as one four page entity or you will run the risk of page disaster if you miss or if the wind and the swiftness of your turning blows the rest of the music off the stand! This quality arrangement is possible primarily due to Stacy Baker and Gail Robertson as SymbioisDuo recruiting composers and arrangers to write for this medium and then recording an outstanding CD compilation of these new compositions and arrangements. The best way to support this medium is to buy the music and the recording!
~Mark Nelson, Pima Community College
Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day by Henry Purcell transcribed for euphonium, tuba, and piano by Joe Kreines. Gar Music, 6772 Goldeneye Drive, Orlando, FL., 32810. www.symbiosisduo.com. 2009. $12.
Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day was originally written in 1692 to celebrate the feast day of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians. Transcribed as a low brass duet with piano accompaniment, written for and recorded by the Symbiosisduo, this piece is a fairly easy read with minimal range in the euphonium, A2 to E4; the tuba player is required at times to play melodically above the staff with a range from G2 to D4. This piece does not require much technical proficiency from the pianist and is mainly supporting the duo by outline chords throughout the piece. Although the copy is very easy to read, there is only one supplied part between the two players, with a choice of reading bass clef or B-flat treble clef for the euphonium player.
This piece is very suitable for advanced high school performers or lower level college students looking to get involved with chamber music or anyone looking for a Baroque piece to add to their own repertoire.
~Stephen Kunzer, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Flower Duet from Lakmé by Léo Delibes for euphonium, tuba, and piano arranged by Gail Robertson. Gar Music, 6772 Goldeneye Drive, Orlando, FL., 32810. www.symbiosisduo.com. 2009. $12.
Although the title might not strike a chord, once you begin playing the famous Flower Duet from Lakmé, it will instantly “ring a bell.” Heard in numerous television shows and commercials, this beautiful duet sung between the opera’s characters Lakmé and Mallika has now been adapted for tuba, euphonium, and piano by arranger Gail Robertson. Like the previous review for Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day found in this column, this piece was written for and recorded by the Symbiosisduo. The piece is written in ABA form and in the key of B major. The most challenging aspect is that the tuba part is written in the upper tessitura of the tuba range, often staying above the staff and peaking at a G-sharp4 (ala “Bydlo”). I personally love when parts interweave with one another in this range, melding the upper range of the tuba and euphonium sounds into one. The euphonium player does not have as much range to worry about, but it is taxing nonetheless, ranging from F-sharp3 to a B4. The piano part is not very demanding, often being chord supportive with the left hand and melodically helpful with the right.
~Stephen Kunzer, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Orlando Lakes for euphonium and tuba by Christopher Marshall. Gar Music, 6772 Goldeneye Drive, Orlando, FL., 32810. www.symbiosisduo.com. 2009. $24.
Adding another nice tuba-euphonium duet to the repertoire, the Symbiosisduo (featuring Gail Robertson on euphonium and Stacy Baker on tuba) commissioned Orlando Lakes by Christopher Marshall.
Christopher Marshall has been a freelance composer for fifteen years and since August of 2006 has held the honorary position of Composer-in-Residence at the University of Central Florida. He became Adjunct Professor of Composition in 2009. In his bio, Marshall states: “The foundation of my style is a strong belief that music is primarily a means of expressive communication with an audience. Singable, memorable melody coupled with a subtle use of the tonal harmonic system is a valuable resource.”
This statement holds true to the compositional style of Orlando Lakes. Marshall paints a musical portrait of two lakes located in Orlando. He picked the most contrasting pair of lakes (Eola and Lotus) to give musical variation to the two-movement work. If you are looking for a challenging duet that will keep you rhythmically on your toes, this is the piece for you. The work is extremely rhythmically complex and will really make you work, but the payoff is worth it! I recommend it to only the most advanced student or the professional. The range for the euphonium is from G to b-flat1. The range for the tuba is FF-sharp to f1 and is suitable on either bass or contrabass tuba.
The music is laid out well, easy to read, and put together with a tidy spiral comb binding. One of the most interesting challenges of the work may be the page turns. The first movement is six pages long with no great place to turn. I would suggest copying all of the pages and laying them across two stands.
~Steven Maxwell, Kansas State University
Pavane, Op. 50 by Gabriel Fauré arranged for euphonium, tuba, flugel horn, and piano by Gail Robertson and Alex Thio. Gar Music, 6772 Goldeneye Drive, Orlando, FL., 32810. www.symbiosisduo.com. 2009. 7:00. $18.
The Symbiosisduo have added an interesting twist to the brass trio with this beautiful piece by Fauré for flugel horn, euphonium, and tuba with piano accompaniment. This unusual grouping of instruments creates a lovely blend of sound for our low brass family. Fauré originally orchestrated Pavane for a modest orchestra (the only brass being two horns) and optional chorus. The work was intended for light summer concerts and works well as a light piece on a faculty or student recital. Pavane is most suitable for advanced students or professionals due to high range throughout. The range for tuba is from FF-sharp to f-sharp1, however, it only goes below B for one measure at the end of the work, which makes it more suitable for bass tuba. The range is modest for the euphonium (F-sharp to a1) with much of the piece in the money register of the instrument. The flugel range is from f1 to b2. Your flugel horn player may complain at times about being asked to play softly on a high b2 and the final pianissimo entrance on g-sharp2, but overall it will work for an advanced student. The music is laid out well, easy to read, and put together with a tidy spiral comb binding.
A wonderful recording of the work can be found on the duo’s new CD. This is a nice addition to the repertoire and a great change of pace and timbre for any recital.
~Steven Maxwell, Kansas State University
“Temple Duet” from The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet arranged for euphonium, tuba, and piano by Gail Robertson. Gar Music, 6772 Goldeneye Drive, Orlando, FL., 32810. www.symbiosisduo.com. 2009. 5:00. $24.
Gail Robertson is a name that should be familiar to the entire low brass world. To many people, she was seen for years at Walt Disney World as a member of the TubaFours. She may also be spotted with the Brass Band of Battle Creek, Athena Brass Band, Euphoniums Unlimited, Jack Daniel’s Silver Cornet Band, River City Brass Band, and Symphonia. I have had the pleasure to perform with her several times with Keith Brion’s New Sousa Band. She is currently the President of the International Women’s Brass Conference and teaches at the University of Central Florida and Valencia Community College. And along with all that she finds time to write and arrange music and also to perform with tubist Stacy Baker as a member of the Symbiosisduo.
The “Temple Duet (Au fond du Temple Saint)” from The Pearl Fishers could easily be listed as one of the most memorable and beautiful moments in opera. Though he is better known as the composer of Carmen, this duet is considered one of the most popular in operatic literature. This version takes the euphonium from f to b-flat1, and tuba from BB flat to e-flat1. Although the tuba part is accessible from either bass or contrabass, the tessitura stays near and above the staff for most of the work. Neither part is difficult rhythmically, but there is some challenge to the lyricism and control of the artists.
This work is easily within the reach of good collegiate performers and is very audience friendly. The music clearly engraved, and both lines are shown on the parts. If desired, there is also an additional cornet part that may be utilized, though it is not required. Both versions are included in both bass and treble clef, and the piano score is spiral bound for easy of page turns. In addition, there are score and sound samples available on the website.
~Tim Olt, Wittenberg University
Symbiosis for euphonium, tuba and piano by Chris Sharp. Gar Music, 6772 Goldeneye Drive, Orlando, FL., 32810. www.symbiosisduo.com. 2009. 6:00. $24.
Composer Chris Sharp is extensively versed in writing for brass instruments, having written for Dallas Brass, United States Air Force Airmen of Note, the Boston Pops, and for Disney parks around the world since 1984. When not busy composing, he serves as the director of bands at Sante Fe College in Gainesville, Florida and adjudicates for Bands of America and Drum Corps International. He is also widely recognized for his works for jazz and concert bands, with numerous works in publication.
Symbiosis was written for the euphonium-tuba duo of the same name comprised of Gail Robertson and Stacy Baker. The range for euphonium is from F to c2, and tuba is from CC to g1. The tuba part is playable on either bass or contrabass tuba, though there is a considerable section near the beginning that stays down near CC. There are a number of challenges presented for the artists, including numerous meter changes, extensive dexterity in extreme ranges, two sizeable sections of multi-phonics, and various aural intricacies due to harmonic and melodic language. The work takes on a jazz feel from time to time, interspersed with an “other-worldly” timbre in the multi-phonic sections.
The work has plenty of challenge and interest for the performers, and also has decent audience appeal, though it will stretch the ears a bit. My only complaint is with the notation of the parts. While it is very helpful to have both the brass lines on separate staves on the part, the size of the print is fairly small. The music could be printed larger. Aside from that, the published version is well constructed, with the piano part spiral bound for easy page turning, and both bass and treble clef parts are included.
~Tim Olt, Wittenberg University
The Harmonious Blacksmiths by G. F. Handel arranged for euphonium, tuba, and piano by Gail Robertson and Alex Thio. Gar Music, 6772 Goldeneye Drive, Orlando, FL., 32810. www.symbiosisduo.com. 2009. 5:00. $18.
The Symbiosisduo was formed in 2007 to promote the euphonium-tuba duo instrumentation through the commissioning of new works. Gail Robertson and Alex Thio arranged The Harmonious Blacksmiths for the Symbiosisduo.
Although this arrangement uses the popular name of the “Air and Variations” movement from Handel’s Suite No. 5 in E Major, it is not exactly the same as the original harpsichord version. The additions made to the original piece make this arrangement a nice chamber ensemble work for euphonium-tuba duo with piano accompaniment. The ranges for each part are euphonium E to c2 and tuba CC to g1.
The difficulty level is different for the euphonium and tuba parts. The tuba part covers a wide range of the instrument, but this wide range is a bit misleading. The tuba line rarely moves below the staff and contains some difficult range requirements that would be taxing on younger players. The euphonium part, however, is in a range that places most of the playing in a standard range for the euphonium. In terms of rhythmic difficulty, the parts mainly contain eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and eighth note triplets. There is a shared cadenza between the duo that contains smaller subdivisions than the rest of piece, but this is a small section of this arrangement. Each part is given the melody in turn. When not given the melody, the remaining duo part performs a supporting melodic idea. The piano is normally placed in the accompaniment role, which makes the euphonium and tuba voices stand out whether on the melody or supporting melody line.
The euphonium-tuba duo has a great number of unexplored possibilities. The Harmonious Blacksmiths provides the euphonium-tuba duo instrumentation a piece that is audience-accessible while providing numerous musical challenges. While the requirements of the euphonium part are comparable to other works using the euphonium, the tuba part requires a wide range and a significant level of high range playing. This difficult tuba part does limit this arrangement’s accessibility for all performers, but it is a quality arrangement that can help each member of the ensemble to develop various skills needed to perform this piece for a rewarding musical experience.
~Daniel Brown, Doctoral Student, University of Arizona