QUINTET FOR TUBA AND STRINGS
Program notes by the composer
My Quintet for Tuba and Strings was written in the summer of 1978 at the request of Harvey Phillips, who premiered it with a quartet of Indiana University graduate students during two marathon concerts at New York's Carnegie Recital Hall in January of 1980. The work has no programmatic associations, but seeks to extend the performance techniques of tuba and strings alike within a somewhat conservative, direct and easily understood musical language. I was asked by Mr. Phillips to stay within traditional tuba performance techniques -- no multiphonics, flutter-tonguing, bent pitches, etc. (which have turned out to be curiously gimmicky to today's ears) -- but had no range, register, tempo or rhythmic restrictions, which I took full advantage of. The strings, on the other hand, use ponticello, col legno battuto, tremolo harmonics, snap pizzicati, double and triple stops, etc., in addition to their normal means of sound production.
In the first movement, Introit, the strings' canonic and tightly woven introductions lead to a series of tuba cadenzas whose textures and motives will form the basis of the remaining three movements. The Scherzo in Moto Perpetuo which follows is cast in ternary form, the tuba cavorting against a string background of rapid interlocking 32nds in the outer sections, and attempting to keep up with the first violin's thematic material in the quieter, more sustained middle section. Movement Three, Chaconne, is a slow but very intense set of variations on a slow ground, growing even more intense as it leads to the last movement, Ripresa e Fandango. This movement begins with the same introduction heard at the outset of the first movement, but with the tuba taking part in the canonic dialogue; this leads to a very fast, dance-like give-and-take movement which ends the work.
The Quintet for Tuba and Strings is available for purchase from the Tuba-Euphonium Press.