Concert for Tuba and Orchestra Op. 144

António Victorino D' Almeida (1940)

Ref. ava070009r

Concert for Tuba and Orchestra Op. 144

Piano Reduction by António Ferreira

 

The tuba is an instrument with a powerful, but never strident, sonority – in the same way, its timbre cannot be considered penetrating, as is the case with the trumpet or oboe, for example.

The tuba possesses sonorous characteristics that fortify and amplify the orchestral tutti, altering the overall sound of the orchestra, but this does not mean that the tuba itself has a natural tendency to rise to the foreground.

In fact, the tuba frequently highlights, but only rarely and with difficulty is it, itself, highlighted.

There are even those who think that the tuba should be considered a sweet and fundamentally melodic instrument, but this is also not true.

The tuba cannot be confused with a flute, the same way that it would be absurd to mistake an elephant for a butterfly.

However, they are both beings of an extraordinary beauty and elegance, when considered within the realm of their own movements.

The tuba is capable of being a most beautiful instrument, when it is approached and treated as it is.

As happens many times with the contrabasses and violas, the most common function of the tuba is to serve the ensemble and not to draw emphasis to itself from the midst of the others.  In general, the contrabasses strengthen the foundation of the entire musical discourse, but many times their presence is hardly noticed. The violas strengthen the harmonies, but many times the fact that they are playing also goes unnoticed.  The tuba strengthens the timbre, which would be completely different – much less noble and much less secure, if, perchance, it were not there.

The preoccupations of a composer who writes a Concerto for Tuba, become clear once it is understood that the concept of Concerto is associated automatically with the idea of the soloist, the exaltation of the possibilities of the instrument, the brilliance, dexterous effects and even – in some less desirable, but all too frequent cases - a certain exhibitionism…

Well, none of this is possible – and even less, desirable – with the tuba.

So, what I wanted to obtain – and I am not sure, naturally, if I achieved it … - was to write a work that would highlight that which, in fact, represents the character of the tuba:  to enhance the ensemble.

In order to obtain this enhanced ensemble, the tuba has to realize, in some cases, passages of true technical virtuosity – generally, without the public being aware of it.

Therefore, the objective of the Concerto that I composed is not to show the tuba in a false light (as it is not), but rather to draw the listeners’ attention to what the tuba truly represents and is able to produce in defense of a higher goal: the entire musical whole.

This is not a ceremony of homage, but an act of gratitude for that admirable and generous instrument.

 

António Victorino D’Almeida

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