Why write a Tuba concerto?

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RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

Tuba concertos are for wimps. What you really want is a concertante piece for FOUR tubas - like Rued Langgaard's Eleventh Symphony (which might get an airing at a certain high-profile music festival this summer...).

Look out for a fierce argument in Langgaard's favour in the June issue of Gramophone. Some of his symphonies are truly masterworks; the Eleventh is only six minutes in length, perhaps one of his more eccentric, but extremely powerful when approached with the right mindset.

I'll be on hand to bore you all about Langgaard for the next year, having just been to Denmark to research/explore his life.

RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

Andrew Mellor wrote:

Look out for a fierce argument in Langgaard's favour in the June issue of Gramophone. Some of his symphonies are truly masterworks; the Eleventh is only six minutes in length, perhaps one of his more eccentric, but extremely powerful when approached with the right mindset.

I look forward to it. Personally, I can't make up my mind whether Langgaard's the biggest clown since Icarus or there's something really there. Perhaps 'right mindset' is the key. Antikrist's libretto reminds me of a classic '60s stoners' conversation, all non-sequitors and banalities. Maybe a spliff of Maui Wowee would help.

Or else we need an interpreter, and you just might be the person. Malcolm MacDonald has done a wonderful job of explaining Brian (with whom Langgaard's often linked) to us. Take it away, Andrew.

RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

Maybe, Langgaard's Symphonies need the "right mindset" to approach and, eventually, appreciate them, due to their sometimes bizarre or unusual or stressful orchestration (four tubas on concertante role).

However, his piano and chamber music, the String Quartets in particular (Dacapo has just now initiated a SACD new series), are more accessible and worth exploring.

Parla

RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

I'm sorry but I tried with Langaard, a Rozhdestvensky disc, but I could not enter his "mindworld" and the disc, eventually, went off to musicmagpie.

It should have been the sort of music I like:-(

RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

Well, tagalie, you might well regret asking me to 'take it away', as you'd be here until Christmas!

I can say, though, that Langgaard has been a huge discovery for me and I set out my reasons why in the upcoming Gramophone piece. What it all boils down to is his skill and the fact that he simply had to say what he said (musically, I mean). When you look into the context of how Denmark treated him, you realise why the music has such force but can, occasionally, be erratic.

I seem to disagree with many other Langgaard fans about which of his works are the masterpieces and which are the misfires. With reference to Parla's comment, you certainly don't need the "right mindset" to appreciate what a unique and brilliant achievement the Fourth Symphony is, or even the choral songs (including Hostfuglen - a simple demonstration of exceptional originality and supreme craftsmanship).

There are, of the sixteen symphonies, a handful which were produced under strained personal circumstances (like the Eleventh) and can possibly mark RL out as a musical crank; that he was not, just listen to the Second Symphony. I think that piece, with its predecessor, proves that RL had no problems in the orchestration department. Subsequently, a piece like "The End of Time" shows how he moved orchestration forward (writing Adams five decades before Adams).

Gramophone will carry a review of the Nightingale Quartet's 'volume 1' of the RL complete works for string quartet in the June issue, the same issue as the Icons piece on him. I'll be blogging furiously around that time, too, leading up to that performance of the Eleventh at a 'high profile summer music festival' I alluded to.

I certainly agree with Parla, however, in relation to the piano works - though there's an Ivesian quality to these that still has you wondering what on earth RL was on about. A quick survey of his life, though, explains much.

Sorry for twisting a conversation about tuba concertos onto Rued Langgaard...

RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

And I'd also add that IMHO the Rozhdestvensky disc contains an unhelpfully eccentric programme of works, in compromised recordings and interpretations (from Langgaard-fan scources in the DNSO).

RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

Andrew Mellor wrote:

And I'd also add that IMHO the Rozhdestvensky disc contains an unhelpfully eccentric programme of works, in compromised recordings and interpretations (from Langgaard-fan scources in the DNSO).

It had occurred to me that this may have been the case as Rozhdestvensky can be a remarkably banal, bordering on the lazy, conductor at times.

I await your article with hope of a renewal of my enthusiasm.

RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

Andrew, since we embarked on a round table on Langgaard, what is your findings on his relation/influence from R. Strauss and even Wagner? How do you find his command of orchestration in general and specific terms?

Finally, I find his Violin Concerto particularly interesting, almost post-romantic, with excellent writing for the violin and almost brilliant orchestration. Besides, his Violin/Piano Works are quite accessible and interesting ones. On the other, his Organ works, like Messis (organ drama in three evenings), sound a bit bizarre. How do you feel about them?

Thankful in anticipation,

Parla

RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

Well, troyen1, you may have been right and RL might just not be your bag, but if not it would be fantastic to welcome another Lannggaardian into the fold.

Parla - interesting questions - I feel you can hear a huge amount of Strauss and Wagner in the First and Second Symphonies. The first is Straussian in terms of orchestral effect: the way the huge orchestral tapestry is 'marshalled' to such spectacular effect. Then in the Second I feel you have a Straussian main theme (the very opening theme, with its chromatic inflection) but a Wagnerian structure and residue. I actually think the final movement of the Second sounds like a missing act from Tannhauser.

In both these works, I think RL simply feels compelled to write and not to write like Nielsen; his state of maturity perhaps just led him to write like his idols. I used to think the scores were pastiche-like and vacuous, but the more I listen the more actual RL I hear...but I've not worked out quite how to describe that yet.

You're also bang right about the Violin Concerto - highly unusual but quite magical orchestration, with a piano tinkling away and a sort of constant shifting of the underlay that reminds me of Brahms (I think this is also very much apparent in the Fourth Symphony).

I'm struggling slightly with Messis but persevering. A Gramophone critic who has resisted my attempts to convert him to Langgaard emailed me recently saying that he'd 'discovered' Messis and perhaps he was wrong about RL after all...

RE: Why write a Tuba concerto?

I have to admit I only know his Music of the Spheres, Tonebilleder and Antikrist. Your comment, I used to think the scores were pastiche-like and vacuous fits exactly where I am right now, re. Langgaard. Music of the Spheres I've played often but made no progress. The Anitkrist dvd is out of court since my good lady wife refuses to watch it, calling it 'absolute drivel'. A pity, because the music certainly is arresting even if the libretto is nonsense.

I look forward to your advocacy, Andrew. It wouldn't be the first time somebody's enthusiasm has unlocked the secrets of a composer for me.

Oops! Better get out of here before the tuba junkies come on and tell us we've hijacked their thread.

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