Carlson’s two-movement concerto for tuba was first performed in November 2014 at the University of South Florida with soloist Jay Hunsberger, to whom it is dedicated. The piece is unusual for the way that it treats the instrument–as a means for expressive lyricism in the first movement along with the use of fast passagework in the second.
The work is intended to be played with a double string orchestra and harp, though it may performed with nine solo strings and harp; the solo strings may be slightly amplified if needed. The first movement, marked Andante affetuoso, is composed of long, lyrical lines for the soloist, demanding virtuosity in breath control and support. Against the wide ranging melody in the tuba, which explores every part of its register, the accompanying material lays down a bed of arpeggios that move seamlessly between the strings, often creating a suspended sense of weightlessness. In ABA form, the main thematic material is developed within the A section with a brief contrasting excursion in B.
The second movement, Allegro vivo, begins with Carlson’s take on a Rupak, a kind of Bulgarian dance in 7/8 rhythm though the tune is Carlson’s own followed by a raga-like section in 5/8. This gives way to an energetic idea in 6/8; the whole is developed, leading to a fiery climax which brings back the main tune from the first movement. Throughout, the soloist plays demanding material requiring great agility rapid scales, arpeggios, trills, and the like which explores the entire range of the tuba, though through entirely traditional means (there are no extended instrumental techniques in the work). The energetic coda leads to a lively and definitive end.
Score and Parts Included: Tuba