Re: R. Vaughan Williams Concerto`

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Posted by Joe Sellmansberger on April 07, 1999 at 21:39:33:

In Reply to: R. Vaughan Williams Concerto` posted by Derek Lamb on April 05, 1999 at 19:48:05:

Yes, you should purchase the RCA recording of John Fletcher. I think that it was originally intended to fill up the rest of the grooves on a side of a Vaughan Williams Symphony L.P. with the LSO, but ended up being what sold the record, and what has given it staying power -- beyond Fletch's life and into the c.d. era. Getting back to the piece, if you have the luxury of inspecting the rental orchestra manuscript score, you will be astonished to see how many long, sparsely-articulated legato phrases were originally written, verses the many articulations edited into the Oxford "for sale" tuba/piano version - mostly inserted by the piece's first performer, Philip Catalanet , I think , in order to make it easier to play and to make it through the phrases. If you have the flexibility to slur "just about everything", as is intimated in the rental score, you will bring off more the intended character of this piece, I believe. I might be wrong, but I have heard that the second movement was originally written as a solo for a HARMONICA-playing friend of V.W. as a stand-alone piece, and the first and third movements were composed around the rewritten-for-tuba Romance to create a tuba concerto. Some of the Oxford edition articulations may help you around technical problems, especially if you are performing this on a BBb, CC, or big-bell Eb (instruments with less-secure high registers) , rather than an F, but avoid the " too-ahh tuc-kuh" effects that are the negatives that these facilitating articulations might carry with them. If your accompanying ensemble is too loud and cannot seem to play soft enough for a good balance, you might request that many of the players rest. If you are forced to "belt out" this very tender little piece, that will also ruin its character, along with any chance of you being able to gently touch that soft little high E near the end. There are many things that could be discussed here, but one other thing that I could offer is to "play with" the F naturals that occur in the piece (like a harmonica player might[?]). They are "blue" notes - very unusual and unexpected - if the listener isn't familiar with the piece. You certainly don't need to overdo this, but you may wish to subtly "dwell" on the F naturals, even, and especially (although I haven't heard this done by anyone but me -- I'm sure that others have.) the F natural at the very end. The significance of that one is that it functions doubly as a "blue" note, and as a momentary "tonality confuser" - a reference of movement back to an F tonality for the Finale movement. Releasing that (perhaps seemingly "over"-held) last F natural, moving slowly up to the A, and finally having the accompaniment come in with that gentle little upper-voiced D major chord with "fade-to-black" will offer one final "tension-and-release" event in the erotic little love song.
Congratulations on doing so well. I hope that you are pursuing summer studies at Interlochen, Aspen, or some other similar situation. If not, scholarships are available. Work now on getting yourself into a summer experience for next year.

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