ANDERSON'S ARIZONA ORIGINALS

Phone Icon

602 206 6824

Cart Cart

Auditorium


Reviews


Arnold Jacobs

Date: July 19, 1998.
Phone call from Chicago, recorded and transcribed with Mr. Jacobs' permission.

Arnold Jacobs

"I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed listening to Sam Pilaflan, who did a wonderful job with this disc. And the school orchestra (Arizona State University) just amazed me with their proficiency and the excellence of the orchestra. Particularly, the concerto itself was so satisfying to me. I happen to like its style of music (Romantic) very much and I feel it should be in every advanced tuba players repertoire. I think it's very good for their playing and people will just love to hear them perform it. It's very different from some of the major concertos and the difference, I think, is very valuable. The challenge is quite great and very rewarding. I know, since I have talked with various friends about it and many of my friends have already purchased the disc and they're very happy with it, and I think they feel like I do,very much.

I enjoyed the orchestral accompaniment to the concerto very much. It actually integrated into a beautiful work! As a player in a major orchestra for so many years, I've been enjoying that aspect as well, not just the fact that it's a solo. It fits into so many different tonal colors and I think people will enjoy hearing it. It's a new slant on the tuba!

I was thrilled when I first heard it after so many years since it was composed for me! I didn't have much time, but we took time and just sat down and decided to hear the whole thing right then and there and stop what I was doing! I told my wife at the time that I think this is a major work and it deserved our attention and our admiration! If I were still active as a performer, I would play it in a minute. I think this concerto should be part of the advanced players standard repertoire. I will make a point of sharing it with the players and conductor of the symphony as well as my students. I feel cheated in the fact that I didn't get to do the premiere!

I also enjoyed the "Baroque 'n Brass" piece very, very much and "The Perception of War". In your writing of this orchestral work, the tuba is integrated into the work in such a way that we don't get parts with just an accompaniment, but it has parts with the themes and I think it is very, very satisfactory

If you get a chance, why don't you send a copy of your concerto to Gene Pokorny. See that he gets a CD, I think he'll enjoy that. He's a good man. Feel free to use my words in any manner that you like. Best regards and congratulations!"

Arnold M. Jacobs

Arnold Jacobs, Retired Principal Tuba, Chicago Symphony


Harvey Phillips

Date: July 8, l998

Harvey Phillips

"Dear Gene:
I have listened several times to your newly released CD, each time I gain new perceptions of sound and structure. It is a masterful recording, demonstrating the highest forms of composition and performance. It deserves consecutive listening to fully appreciate the level of artistry and control achieved by the performers.

My heartiest congratulations to you for your challenging and rewarding compositions and to Sam Pilafian who once again demonstrates total control and innate musicianship in everything he does; a Pilafan trademark! Sam transcends his chosen instrument, the tuba, establishing ever higher standards of artistic performance which others aspire to achieve. Timothy Morrison and Timothy Russell also deserve applause for their respective contributions to these recordings. Encore!"

Sincerely,

Harvey
Harvey G. Phillips
Distinguished Professor of Music - Indiana University, Retired


Gene Pokorny

Letter From Gene Pokorny

Gene Pokorny

"Current Chicago Symphony Orchestra Principal Tuba: August 10, 2009;

"Thanks for sending the CD of your tuba concerto. Charlie Vernon commented on how he likes the concerto. Perhaps there will be grass roots sentiment (among the CSO players) to get It programmed. Over the years I have learned not to hold my breath when it comes to programming. If asked I will give it my usual over-the-top effort. No brag, that is just how I work.

Best wishes to you. I would love to be a part of a live performance of your piece with the CSO."


BARTON CUMMINGS

Barton Cummings

"On September 26, 1997, the dream of a life-time came true for composer Eugene Anderson. On this date, tuba virtuoso, Sam Pilafian, accompanied by an outstanding Arizona State University Orchestra under the direction of Timothy Russell, presented the first full length performance of Tuba Concerto No. 1 in B minor by Mr. Anderson. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to attend this performance, but through the magic of modern technology, I have been able to experience the entire evening and what an evening it was!!!

The concert opened with The Perception of War, dating from 1973. This is a thirteen minute symphonic tone poem complete with a slide show. It depicts, musically, the “final war of all times” as seen through the eyes of one man, acting as Everyman. This is strong and powerful music and one of the finest pieces to be heard by this reviewer in a long, long time. Make no mistake, this is not a demonstration piece of extended performance practices, but a piece of real music written in such a way that even without the slide show, would still evoke an emotional response,  as the players simulate death after each one  plays their final note. The funeral dirge of the world ends the work. The house lights dim to black
The ending is not a happy one. Indeed, life on earth ebbs away, the spirit of life leaves the earth and man finally succeeds in destroying himself. The performance was superb  and a masterpiece  of its kind.  Both the conductor and orchestra were completely committed to the music.

Next, we come to the real reason why this evening was put together. For nearly three decades, the tuba concerto of Eugene Anderson languished in obscurity and unperformed in its entirety. Lots of rumors were generated for many years about the composition, most of them untrue and unfair. For in truth, the Eugene Anderson concerto is a true master-work for the instrument and the accompanying orchestra and should have long ago become a staple of the repertoire. Perhaps this is a good lesson that we can all learn from. The lesson is that “hearing” a piece on paper and/or judging a work based on composer name and hearing it in real time can often be a completely different exercise and we should never give short shrift to any piece without giving it a fair hearing.

True, the concerto doesn’t require any extended techniques from either the soloist or orchestra, it doesn’t have any strange and atonal harmonies, nor does it have odd-metered sections, nor any of the concepts often found in twentieth century music for tuba and orchestra. It is indeed, a very straight forward piece of music that features beautiful melodies, lush, rich 19th century harmonies and musical forms and  rhythmic structures.
  
In his program notes, the composer informs us that the  concerto was written to fill the void in the literature of the nineteenth century   where no concertos were written for it.  The first movement is in sonata-allegro form, using four related themes instead of the conventional two and that these melodies are developed through counterpoint techniques leading to the end through a variation on the opening theme.

The second movement is a theme and variations based on a Swedish lullaby that was sung to  the composer’s daughter to lull her to sleep. After introducing the lullaby, the movement proceeds into a set of fifteen variations featuring a variety of dreams  and nightmares  through  reworking of the theme. The movement ends with the lullaby simultaneously  played forwards and backwards and  then  ends  quietly.

 The final  movement three is a rondo and “literally bursts forth at a fast, pace.” A unique feature of this movement is that by the end of movement the tuba will have played a duet with every instrument in the orchestra and will have demonstrated the technical abilities of the tuba and its most beautiful singing qualities. The movement ends in a blaze of sound and fury with all three themes of the three movements played simultaneously as  the tuba ends on a high G# above the staff.

Tubist Sam Pilafian, a founding member of the Empire Brass Quintet, and one of the most important virtuosos of the day, turned in a performance of utter brilliance. He is possessed of a strong and powerful tone, that is dark, rich and carries from the softest notes to the loudest. His technique is flawless and his range from top to bottom secure and equally secure. In each movement Mr. Pilafian never let down for a second, even in the most lyric of passages. His excitement, enthusiasm and dedication to the music was evident with every note he played.

The orchestra, made up of one hundred and twenty players specifically chosen for this performance, was magnificent. Conductor Timothy Russell was in complete command and knew the score. While this may be normal under ordinary circumstances, performances of tuba music are so rare, that most conductors rarely study the score and simply wing it, both in rehearsal and performance. It is a rare treat for this kind of commitment from such a master musician.

One could feel the excitement of the evening, even through the electronic medium through which I viewed the concert, and this performance was the highlight of the evening. After hearing the full concert several times, it could have ended with the playing of the concerto and everyone would have left with a feeling of great fulfillment and satisfaction. This is an achievement, because the last number on the concert was the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4!

Not only was this a historic event for the tuba world, but the outcome of this entire project will be a professionally engineered recording by a well known recording company. Not only will the recording of the concerto be by the performers already mentioned, but will feature several other compositions by Mr. Anderson as well as The Perceptions of War. This will be a landmark recording that every tubist and brass player will have to collect.

Bravo to Eugene Anderson for not only his music, but for his never-ending patience and perseverance for thirty years and to all of the performers. September 26, 1997 will indeed go down in tuba history as one of the most important events ever to take place."


BARTON CUMMINGS

Barton Cummings


THE TUBA JOURNAL, Winter 1991 Issue, Volume 19, No.2; by Barton Cummings, composer, tubist:

Review of the Tuba Concerto No. 1 in Bm by Eugene D. Anderson;

"Eugene Anderson has been a familiar name amongst tuba players for many years. He is a noted performer, composer and conductor with many credits in all three areas. He is a prolific composer and arranger and his catalog is a testament to his interest in the tuba and his dedication to composing music for it. The work under discussion was written during 1968 through 1970. It is dedicated to Arnold Jacobs, former tubist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Sadly enough, neither Jacobs nor the Chicago Symphony ever performed or recorded this work. Nor for that matter has anyone ever recorded the work under optimal conditions, which has prompted the composer to offer a $300.00 stipend to the tubist who can and will do so. Will the money be worth the effort needed to learn and record this work? Let's answer that question, after more has been written about the work.

The composer states that he feels this may be the longest concerto ever written for a brass instrument and certainly for the tuba. Not to take away from its formidable length, this is the second longest work. There is another work for solo tuba and orchestra that is more than 45 minutes in length, thus exceeding the present concerto by some 10 minutes. Not that time has anything to do with the worth of the present piece; it is simply a point of interest for those who care about such things. It is, however, important to performers when considering compositions to program.

This Concerto is a full blown composition that takes as its models music by Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Mahler. These influences are used without apology and are used in a free way, yet in other ways this is a twentieth century work. And why apologize? For the three composers mentioned are three composers who provided the music world with some of the finest music. Writing for tuba and orchestra is a challenge that has been met very rarely in the past, even by some of the giants of the present era, and in fact this reviewer once stated that all tuba concerto must use the Vaughan Williams Concerto as the one from which all others must stem. However, with the present work that statement provides some awkward feelings.

With his Concerto No. 1, Eugene Anderson has accepted the challenge and has met that challenge admirably. Let's begin with the first movement. This movement begins slowly and solemnly and sets the scene for the entire concerto. It is in a subdivided 6/8, with the eighth marked as 76. This later moves up to 100 and to 132. The theme is built around some triplets including sixteenth notes in the triplets. In spite of the dark and somber quality, this is a very beautiful and melodic opening that leads to a very fast moving section which will require expertise in the double tongue from the soloist and some super flexibility in negotiating some wide intervals and some slurred passages. This section leads into a slower section in 6/8 which then goes into another articulated passage at quarter note equal to 96. The work then takes a plunge into some 7/8 measures, taking us into a 3/4 section, back to 7/8, 3/4 and in 3/4 to the tempo of 132, easing back into a restatement of the beginning theme and finishing the movement very quietly, yet very nicely.

Movement two is based on a single theme-that of a Swedish lullaby learned by the composer from his grandparents. It is in the form of a Theme and Variations, which in program might be thought as a child being sung to sleep and during that sleep experiencing dreams of a pleasant and not so pleasant nature, which causes the child to wake. At this point the lullaby and its retrograde played together put the child back to sleep. Musically, this is a gorgeous movement with lots of lush, romantic spots and the chance for the tuba to really "sing." There are, to be sure, some very technical passages that will require virtuosity from the player and some very quick meter and tempo changes to contend with. It is, in short, not a simple movement by any means. This movement also ends very quietly and, in some cases, on a disturbing note (no pun intended). It does not end so peacefully as might be expected because of the fact that the tuba ends on the fifth of the particular chord after seeming to want to end on the root. Perhaps to "sleep like a baby" is not all it is believed to be?

The third movement literally bursts open at a fast and furious pace and a loud dynamic, the tempo and notation will require virtuoso technique far above average. After a while this motion ceases and the tempo changes to a Largo. This leads into another fast section which in turn leads to another slower section. This pattern continues, thus giving the movement the form of a Rondo with some interesting twists and turns. While containing a lot of virtuoso passages, there are also ample opportunities for the tuba to display its melodic side in some beautiful melodic sections. The ending of this movement is unique in that it combines all of the main themes from each of the three movements, plus the counter melody and accompaniment of the third movement in one giant explosion in which the work comes to an end. The piece ends, after some thirty five minutes, on a G# above the staff!

Now, as to the mechanics of the piece and the production of performing of such a work as the one under consideration. First, to perform this work with piano is a tragedy of major proportions since one of its unique qualities is the orchestration and the use of the various instrumental colors including percussion. After hearing the first movement with orchestra and the other two with piano, one can only surmise the color, but it can be done. The tragedy of a non-orchestral accompaniment becomes obvious and painful.

So, step one would be to find a conductor intelligent enough and serious enough to learn the score, and then this conductor would have to have an orchestra capable of sustaining the work. Step two is to find a soloist of the ability needed to play this work. Anyone attempting this work needs endurance, intelligence and artistry, three qualities which we all strive for but often times fail to meet. Step three is to find the time and space to do it-int this case, space on a program.

This is one of those compositions that makes one angry. It is a giant in terms of all its many facets, and yet will receive few performance other than those by the composer because caring is so lacking amongst our conductors, both at the professional and the educational levels. It will probably never see a beautiful engraved edition because publishers, for all of the talk, will not produce this kind of product. So, where does that leave the composer and the Concerto? Back to the question of whether three hundred dollars is worth the time and effort to produce this work. The answer is yes and no. Yes, because it is musically worth it and no, because there are, unfortunately, very few three hundred dollar orchestras. And those that do exist don't play.

All that can be hoped for is that tubists will trust that the recommendation to obtain this work is true. For this reviewer will state in the strongest terms available that this is a masterwork of the first order and that it deserves to become known, performed and recorded, then engraved and published. The reviewer will say all this in light of the fact that this is purely a musical effort, no gimmicks, new techniques, strange movements on stage or any other extraneous aspect of what has now become musical performance. Every tubist owes this piece a performance, and in either form, orchestral or piano reduction, it should be in every tubist's library. In hesitation, there are cuts offered by the composer to reduce the performance time, but these should be avoided if at all possible. Good music does not benefit by cutting, and all one ends up with is a good piece cut, not a good piece strengthened. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!