Wednesday, May 07, 2008

take back the Capuzzi

My colleague Mike Eastep, tuba player at the CPO, just invited me over to hear a lunch-time tuba recital by Keith Hartshorn-Walton, at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary. (The concert was presented by the Pro Arts Society as part of their Wednesday series.)

I was surprised to walk in and hear Keith perform, in its entirety, the Antonio Capuzzi Concerto for Double Bass. It came off quite well, with lots of beautiful, ringing high notes and a gracefully phrased, melodic 2nd movement. Tuba players transcribe it down a fifth to B-flat major, with an adapted cadenza -- suggesting a strange, poetic justice for all the cello music we bassists have come to love, transcribe, and re-write.

You might peg bass and tuba players as bottom-feeders, on some hypothetical musical food chain. In actuality though, we play some of the best solo repertoire ever written -- just not written for our instrument, usually. That puts us on the top of the musical food chain, at least by my biased reckoning. Bach may have never envisioned his 5th Cello Suite rattling the lighting fixtures in tuba range, but that's how I hear it, a lot of the time, and I'm pretty sure there's nothing egregiously wrong with that.

But if bass players are going to stay at the top of the food chain, we'd better watch out for these tuba players, stealing all our obscure, bizarre classical concerti. They've already got Capuzzi - watch out for Vanhal, Dittersdorf, Dragonetti, and Sperger!

1 comment:

The Peabody Double Bass Faculty said...

Great post Matt. I've often dreamed of the sweet, sweet sound of a violinist assaying the opening cadenza of the Koussevitsky Concerto. And oh yes, I would engage in some retributive down-the-nose-looking and scoffing at them!