Concerto for solo tuba & low brass ensemble
ensemble: alto-trombone / 4 tenor-trombones / euphonium / 3 bass-trombones /
contrabass-trombone (or contrabass-tuba)
- composition date: 2011-2012
- duration: ca. 21 min.
- commission: Sérgio Carolino
- dedication: «for Sérgio Carolino, unrivalled artist and tuba virtuoso, as well as a longtime friend…»
- premiere: 14/11/2016 | Aveiro Autumn Festival | Wild Bones Gang/ Sérgio Carolino (tuba)/ Luís Carvalho (dir.)
Suggested by, and dedicated to the great Portuguese Tuba virtuoso Sérgio Carolino, Dodekathlon is inspired by the Greek myth of the Twelve Labours carried out by Heracles (or Hercules, as it is best known in post-Roman Age), the great hero of Ancient Greece. The solo Tuba is here, of course, the herculean hero, while the accompanying ensemble approaches the concept of the collective chorus in the tradition of the classical Greek dramatic art. It is a concerto cast in a single continuous movement, but divided into fourteen clearly recognizable sections, corresponding to an Introduction (Intrada), the twelve labours proper, and a final Epilogo.
The Twelve Labours, whose actual order may differ depending on the sources, are:
- Slay the Nemean Lion (here symbolized by aggressive music)
- Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra (epitomized in sequences of 9 notes chords)
- Capture Cerynitis, the Golden Hind of Artemis (the agility of the hind here represented by a solo euphonium, which co-stars the solo tuba in an uneasy duet of escape-and-catch)
- Capture the Erymanthian Boar (pesante music)
- Clean the Augean stables (noble and pompous music)
- Slay the Stymphalian Birds (mysterious and voluble music)
- Capture the Cretan Bull (ferocious music)
- Steal the Mares of Diomedes (contemplative music)
- Obtain Hippolyta’s girdle, the Queen of the Amazons (fantastical music)
- Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon (powerful and bravura music)
- Steal the golden apples of the Hesperides (mystical music)
- Capture of Cerberus, the three-headed dog guardian of the underworld (firstly nervous/ferocious, and finally victorious music)
Notwithstanding these guiding lines, my music is not, in any way, descriptive, albeit certainly figurative. I tried to capture the spirit of the successive tasks presented to Heracles/Hercules rather than describing them actually, and in that sense it is also, to a certain extent, abstract music. It is my profound belief that even when extra-musical aspects influence music creation, the music itself must suffice as a work of art. In so searching my goal, I just hope listeners will enjoy my music at least as much I enjoyed creating it.
In a final word, I’m deeply indebted to Sérgio Carolino for his support to my work as with so many other Portuguese and foreign composers of the present day, and also for his longtime friendship, which so much honors me.
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