SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

“Chameleon” – Øystein Baadsvik, tuba/Fanfare Band of Royal Netherlands Army/ Tijmen Botma – BIS

A most unusual disc, with superb sound and performances.

Published on July 7, 2012

“Chameleon” – Øystein Baadsvik, tuba/Fanfare Band of Royal Netherlands Army/ Tijmen Botma [TrackList follows] – BIS multichannel SACD 1965, 66:47 [Distr. by Qualiton] *****:

I am not sure who this disc is aimed at, but it has superlative sound and is thought provoking, not to mention musically entertaining. Seven cuts (listed below) feature virtuoso Baadsvik on tuba with Botma skillfully leading the Netherlands Army Band. Most of the items are of fairly recent vintage composition-wise, so the result is an intriguing mix of classical music and jazz.

What is most interesting is the first cut of a work written by Baadsvik who plays the didgeridoo. The didgeridoo is a wind instrument created over 1500 years ago by Northern Australian aborigines, and its sounds are heard all over the world today.

That sound is striking and other-worldly. Really a wooden trumpet, it is classed with other vibrating air instruments as an aerophone which means it belongs with more familiar brass and woodwinds. A round or conical tube, the instrument can be anywhere from three to ten feet in length, but usually is around four feet.

As Baadsvick says in the notes, it is played like the tuba by vibrating or buzzing the lips into the mouthpiece. Baadsvick continues, “During a visit to Australia I…bought a didgeridoo to try out. The difficult part wasn’t playing it, but finding music that could be played with others, which is why I composed this piece for didgeridoo and wind band. As the instrument has only a single, more or less fixed pitch, the whole composition centered around D flat.”  The piece is “Did You Do?,” a pun on didgeridoo.

There have been other Western-style compositions employing the didgeridoo, mainly by contemporary Australian composers, and some have been recorded.

But the remainder of the SACD is given over to various short works for tuba and band, all of them a cut above the ordinary. The tuba appears in a lot of symphonic music and the composers of the items on this disc have not avoided what sound to me very much like close or direct quotes from some classics.

TrackList:
1. ØYSTEIN BAADSVIK: Did You Do?
2. ANNA BAADSVIK: Memory of a Rose
3. ROBERT JAGER: Concerto for Bass Tuba and Concert Band
4. ROB GOORHUIS: Concerto for Tuba and Fanfare Band
5. PAT METHENY & LYLE MAYS: Minuano (Six Eight)
6. MAURICE HAMERS: Chameleon
7. ROY NEWSOME: Bass in the Ballroom

—Zan Furtwangler




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