46th Season Highlights
Photo by Anne Peterson
Norfolk Chamber Consort,
Øystein Baadsvik, tuba
Chandler Recital Hall, November 10,
Review by M.D.Ridge
Twenty years ago, Andrey Kasparov
and Oksana Lutsyshyn were in Chicago; they were asked to perform
with a talented young tuba player from Norway. They said yes, and
asked when the concert was to be.
"In three days."
Kasparov recalls, "And the Hindemith was the easiest
thing on the program!" After a couple of all-nighters, he and
Lutsyshyn performed with Øystein Baadsvik-since then, the
only tuba player to make a living solely as a soloist.
November 10, at ODUs Chandler
Recital Hall the Norfolk Chamber Consort concert, "Together Again,"
showed exactly why Baadsvik is such a phenomenon. It's not only his
virtuosity and spectacular technique, but a musicality that makes
the dizzying technique look almost easy.
Hindemith's 1955 Sonata for Bass
Tuba and Piano began with Kasparov's crashing chords, while
Baadsvik nodded approval and launched into a tuba melody over the
sizzling piano. The Allegro movement was fast, with a barrage of
notes and a light, surprise ending. The Variations movement was a
dialog - dramatic phrases of tuba melodies over busy, fast piano
Clad in a black jacket embroidered
on lapel, sleeve and back with a sunburst design, the fair, balding
Baadsvik explained the next work and demonstrated double-tonguing
and other wonders. He had intended to play William Kraft's
Encounters II for solo tuba, but the technique involved singing
into the instrument while playing and, he said, he doesn't have the
high notes anymore. So he substituted a piece inspired by Kraft,
his composition Snowflake, that incorporates Norwegian folk tonal
vocabulary and rhythms, as well as a weird vocal sound on top of
the tuba pyrotechnics and percussive effects, culminating in a long
spiral up to the end.
In his arrangement of Bach's Flute
Sonata in E-flat Major, with Lutsyshyn on harpsichord, the tuba
became the flute-light and quick, with challenging rapidity. The
second movement-Siciliano-was romantic and melodic, evincing
extraordinary breath control. The Allegro movement showed off
light, quick runs, with superb attention to dynamics-and amazing
trills. Lutsyshyn's harpsichord had precision and
Three works by Grieg followed the
intermission. First, the familiar "Anitra's Dance," then "A Dream,"
from Grieg's Six Songs, which was balladic, insistently romantic.
Lutsyshyn's closing flourish brought a big smile from Baadsvik.
"Norwegian Dance No. 1" had a different sonority, and a lovely
floating tone; the inhumanly fast ending finished on a blast of
Kasparov returned to the piano for
Baadsvik's own composition "It'll be Alright," a tender, melodic
ballad rooted in the dark Norwegian winter and the reappearance of
the sun in February; it had a blues feel, the tuba swapping the
melody with the piano and playing a countermelody - just
Three works by Astor Piazzolla
followed. Milongo del ángel, one of the composer's "angel"
songs, uses dance rhythms and melody. Invierno Porteño, the
"winter" section from Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires,
featured percussive slapping of the tuba with the piano rhythms.
The tango rhythms and quick ornaments of Adiós Nonino segued
into tender melody with a very elegiac vocal quality.
Lutsyshyn was back on harpsichord
for "Winter," from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Baadsvik was "air
conducting" with one hand while going wild with virtuosic
techniques, very rapid ornaments and impossible triple-tonguing.
The middle part was straightforward, with beautiful tone. The final
part was marked by increasing tempo, very fast triple-tonguing,
heavily ornamented-all at blinding speed.
The three joked around for the
encore-Vittorio Monti's familiar violin showpiece Czardas.
Lutsyshyn started to play-Kasparov came out apologizing-and they
settle into piano four hands, while Baadsvik did his virtuoso tuba
thing. . . very fast. At one point, while playing his tuba,
Baadsvik walked down the aisle to serenade a girl in the audience,
blowing her a kiss as he returned to the stage-much fun, but some
heavy-duty music making going on.
It's probably safe to say that no
one in the audience will think of tubas in quite the same way ever
This review was originally broadcast
on WHRO 90.3 FM's "From the other side of the