Confliction - For Solo Tuba
Programme notes on Confliction .
The Tuba Edition of Confliction was first performed by Michael Johnson in the Peel Hall at The University of Salford in May 2003, and subsequently in his Solo Recital Tour of South Africa in the Summer of 2003.
The work is so called because it depicts the conflicting musical musings of a brass player (not the Composer !). Our man has an orchestral or symphonic background but with ever increasing yearnings towards a lighter style of music making.
The piece starts with a slow lyrical, almost Jewish feeling to it, with a hint of Mahler. We gently explore the warm sound of the instrument, coming to rest, at the end of the opening section on a pedal D.
This should be played very quietly, almost like a plain-chant, but maybe with a hint more warmth.
Now something totally contrasting (or conflicting?) in style.
A waltz with a “light-jazz” feel to it. Although "jazzy" in nature, this section is not played with swing quavers. Instead it is almost like a player with a "straight" background playing in an unfamiliar style but with a growing affection for it. Almost like an orchestra playing a "Hollywood Film Night" with no swing.
In the "Heavy Swing" section, he gets it right, and the swing that he longs for appears. This is ring swing now, but not too fast.
After drifting through a non-swing phrase again, the mood changes abruptly at the Grave, with some very symphonic statements, almost like the more serious side of his conflicting musical thoughts trying to reassert itself.
These subside into something more reflective, and our man enjoys some self indulgence in the lower register of the instrument, wandering around some of the themes that we have already met, eventually fading away into his own thoughts.
We now launch into another flight of fancy, this time with a quasi Mexican feel to it. We wander in and out a cheeky 5 and 6 in a bar with a happy holiday air about it. After some interesting technical challenges in this new style we slow down again and reflect with a rather melancholic yearning, almost regret that our friend now abandons his musical past and lets his new musical love prevail.
The piece finishes with a happy return of the "swing" section, a celebration that the inner conflicts are over.
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