Aria con Variazioni
In 1989 Thomas Stevens' Variations in Olden Style was written for the specific reason of offering tubists an original piece composed in the Baroque style. Even though the tuba didn't exist in the Baroque period and all music from that period that tubists could play had to necessarily be transcriptions; no one could have predicted the success of Variations in Olden Style and that it would become one of the most frequently played tuba solo works ever written.
Now we have a new work, Aria con Variazioni, by Thomas Stevens (published by Editions Bim) for either tuba and keyboard or tuba and strings (quartet or orchestra), which was written with a consideration of the same kind of need, this time filling the void from the early classical period.
The theme of the Aria con Variazioni is a very recognizable melody by Handel and the five variations are classical in style. This is not a difficult work; in fact, one could say it's a simple work both in style and technical demands. Very quickly it should be pointed out that Wagner's Meistersinger, Mahler's 4th Symphony and Prokovief's Classical Symphony were also considered simple pieces compared to what those same composers were writing during the same periods. And further, it should be pointed out that some of the most remarkable solo performances are the simplest pieces played by the greatest performers; the results are musical magic.
Aria con Veriazioni is a very charming work that can be played by most players but those who will touch the beauty and that musical magic will be the truly great tubists. Aria con Variazioni will almost certainly become another tuba classic and almost certainly be a frequent recital, exam and competition piece.
Thanks Tom for again enhancing our repertoire.
Tokyo, 22 October 2006