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Two Recordings of Special Merit

Postby Chuck Jackson » Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:37 pm

I like to chime in every so often to share recordings that I feel are representative of the works, and represent good fundamental tuba playing. Bear with me as I have two to discuss.

1. Bruckner Symphonie No. 8- NDR Sinfonieorchester/Gunter Wand. I have owned 14-15 seperate recordings of this work as I have loved it since first hearing in the Summer of 1976 via the 3rd installment by the BPO/Von Karajan. Since I have found this particular recording I have sold all of the others with the exception of the Furtwangler/VPO reading from 1944. Recorded in 1993, this reading does not make the grand gesture of soft string stuff followed by blaring brass that is prevelant in so many recordings. Wand lets the architecture of the piece unfold in such a way that one understands the flow of the music and it's inherent intent. It goes beyond the segmented recordings loved by brass players (people who wait around for the NEXT BIG BLOW) and treats it as a painting in music. Who knew that the clarinet had such beautiful lines, or that the string repetitions really do boost the harmonic flow? If you want to be enlightened instead of bludgeoned, this is the recording for you.

Not that it isn't without its monumental brass playing, in fact this is the BEST brass playing I have heard on this particular work. As it was recorded in 1993, this puts it right in the middle of Walter Hilgers' time with the NDR. His Contrabass playing is beautiful, forceful where need be, but wonderfully poignant in the softer sections. He provides a very firm foundation, playing the BBb tuba with authority, clarity, and sheer weight of sound (notice I didn't say volume) that makes this a primer on how to play over the entire range of dynamics. There are two notes in the last 3 minutes of the Finale that should be the benchmark for every tuba player. A simple G-C whole note pattern that is played with such beauty and resonance as to make me want to have chops again just to try to emulate it. His brass brethren are on the same wave length and give a performance that is not likely to be matched.

The recording is on the RCA Read Seal label, #09026 68047 2. I purchased it used on Amazon for $2.99. It was new, go figure.

Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 Victoria Mullova/RPO/Previn. Early in my career I had the good fortune to perform this work a number of times with Charles Rex as soloist. If you are unfamiliar with the work, get it. It is an emotional tour-de-force that takes you from stunning highs to gut wrenching lows in its 32 minute length. Previn is my choice for a conductor of the 20th Century Russian Literature. He gets a searing performance, wringing out every bit of angst and hilarity, making this a poster child for musical schizophrenia. Mullova is a willing partner. Her Cadenza between the 3rd and 4th Movements is not equalled on record. Sheer terror and ferocity are her milleiu.

This work is worthy of every tuba players attention. The brass contingent is simply 4 horns and tuba, with the tuba taking a solo role for 90% of the time it plays. The very first note you must play is a Pianissimo Pedal D in the Nocturne that is the start of an upward rising line with the violin. That should be enough to include it on EVERY audition. The 2nd movement goes by rather quickly which leads us to the Passacaglia. After a searing opening where the horns scream their discontent, the tuba takes over the Passagaglia theme in support of a lovely woodwind chorale. Cast right in the cash register it requires a presence of sound at an mf that is at once authoritarian and bleak. It is one of my favorite moments in tuba playing and the gentleman with the Royal Philharmonic handles the chore of playing this piece admirably. Big fat sound even in the pianos and downright scary in the fortes. EVERY tuba player should own this recording and try to emulate the way this guy plays in our most holy of registers.

This recording was made in 1988 and is on the Philips Label # 422 364-2.

Happy Listening.

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Re: Two Recordings of Special Merit

Postby jimgray » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:07 pm

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Re: Two Recordings of Special Merit

Postby happyroman » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:12 am

jimgray wrote:this one?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgyaUqDhYbE" target="_blank


Same performers, but the Youtube performance appears to be from Tokyo two years later.
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Re: Two Recordings of Special Merit

Postby AndyCat » Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:59 pm

Just bought the Mullova on Google Play. Wow. Wonder who played on this? John Jenkins?


The Bruckner is on it's way.
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Re: Two Recordings of Special Merit

Postby happyroman » Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:05 pm

I also ordered the Bruckner, but discovered that Chris Olka recorded the Shostakovich with Seattle circa 2004, I had to go with that one.

Here's a link: http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/Dri ... ame_role=4

Also, on a related note (or should I say some really low notes), check out the Seattle Opera performances of the Ring. I have only listened to Das Rheingold so far, but this ranks right up there with the Reiner recording of Alexander Nevsky in terms of how prominent the tuba is. Chris Olka sounds great, and is also the happy benificiary of very favorable mic placement. It really is reminiscent of the Jake recording of Alexander Nevsky where he was picked up on a mic used for the chorus. Both were able to sit back a little and just produce great sounds without having to force anything. Can't wait to hear the rest of the cycle.
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Re: Two Recordings of Special Merit

Postby Steve Marcus » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:27 am

Bruckner Symphonie No. 8- NDR Sinfonieorchester/Gunter Wand.
Not that it isn't without its monumental brass playing, in fact this is the BEST brass playing I have heard on this particular work. As it was recorded in 1993, this puts it right in the middle of Walter Hilgers' time with the NDR. His Contrabass playing is beautiful, forceful where need be, but wonderfully poignant in the softer sections. He provides a very firm foundation, playing the BBb tuba with authority, clarity, and sheer weight of sound (notice I didn't say volume) that makes this a primer on how to play over the entire range of dynamics. There are two notes in the last 3 minutes of the Finale that should be the benchmark for every tuba player. A simple G-C whole note pattern that is played with such beauty and resonance as to make me want to have chops again just to try to emulate it.


Not diminishing anything about the driver behind the machine, but that clear, focused, yet weighty contrabass sound emanates from Walter Hilgers' horn--a tall BBb Kaiser tuba of which we may not have even one example in North America among active symphony players. The 195 Fafner is a great BBb; there are other notable BBb concert tubas available here (Willson, BMB, Miraphone Siegfried of which bloke and I are among many fans, etc.). But NONE of these are of the very tall design of Hilgers' original Bohland & Fuchs Kaiser tuba and the Melton 197 which is purportedly based upon the B&F. So we here on this side of the pond have not had the opportunity to hear concerts with the tuba player armed with this kind of horn, let alone play any concerts ourselves with one of these behemoths. The Hirsbrunner 193[?] comes close as Rick Denney can elaborate, but it's not the same as the MW 197 or custom-built 198 (5 valves). The reason for mentioning this, beyond elaborating upon Chuck's fine review, is that Buffet Crampon should at least introduce this horn to players in the Western Hemisphere by consigning them (at least initially) with selected dealers and displaying them at tuba conferences, NAMM, Midwest, etc.
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