Mike Forbes: tuba, euphonium/The Sotto Voce Quartet/Demondrae Thurman, Mark Carlson: euphonium/Nat McIntosh, John Stevens: bass tubas/Stephanie Frye, Blaine Cunningham: contrabass tubas/The University of Alabama Wind Ensemble/Dr. Kenneth Ozzello, Randall Coleman: conductors
A compilation of Forbes’ own musical works through the first half of his life, from one of the finest tuba players around!
“I have been enjoying Mike Forbes’s music recently (Jan/Feb 2015: 189). Here’s a whole hour of his pieces. Most are for tuba in solo or ensemble situations, but the zippy opener, ‘Commemorative Fanfare’ (2012), is for band. Next comes its complete opposite, ‘The Grumpy Troll’ (2013), a 6-minute piece for unaccompanied tuba that includes a lot of grotesque low notes. But it is lively, too, and has some amazing counterpoint that involves a valve with its tuning slide removed. It’s hard to describe the result, but it’s comical, complex, and very impressive.
‘Tapestries’ (2004) is a 5-movement, 15-minute work for tuba and band in knights-of-old style, along the lines of William Byrd’s ‘Earle of Oxford’s March’ or Eric Ewazen’s Colchester Fantasy. It’s a terrific piece for tuba, and Forbes plays it with panache. The 12-minute ‘David & Goliath’ (2012) reminds me vividly of John Stevens’ Liberation of Sisyphus. Both are scored for euphonium-tuba ensemble, and both are about overcoming overwhelming odds. [In fact, John Stevens is playing in Forbes’s ensemble]. Forbes was inspired by Telemann’s Canonic Sonatas when we wrote ‘6 Roundabouts’ (2003) for two tubas [or euphoniums]; he plays both parts here.
The program ends with a ‘Capriccio’ (2010) for tuba and band and a ‘Lullaby’ (1999) for euphonium (Demondrae Thurman), tuba, and the UA Brass Choir. I think I would enjoy ‘Capriccio’ more if the tempo were a bit quicker, but since the composer is the soloist we have to assume this is how he wants it to go. The Lullaby is very, very sweet. By this time, we have heard a lot of Forbes’s music, his tuba, his vibrato (fine at first but very noticeable by the end). But his best pieces are very good, and he is an excellent player. Fine playing, too, by the University of Alabama Wind Brass Ensemble.”
-Barry Kilpatrick, American Record Guide
FORBES: Commemorative Fanfare • The Grumpy Troll • Tapestries • David & Goliath • 6 Roundabouts • Capriccio • Lullaby for tuba and euphonium duet with Brass Tentet