For tuba solo, this music takes the form of a very miniaturised sonata, in three movements. It is an irony: the tuba - one of the greatest of instruments; the sonata - one of the greatest of musical structures; but this piece is a miniature portrait of both!
The first movement, Andante, con moto is - as one might expect - in sonata form. In keeping with the ultra-condensed nature of the piece, the first subject is just six bars long, with the second subject (in traditionally different character) swiftly following at just five bars in length. After the exposition is repeated, the two subjects are briefly developed, and finally recalled in a recapitulation of the first and second subjects.
The second movement, Adagio, espressivo is essentially a short "da capo aria" - a song without words - in which the opening, somewhat mournful, sighing motif is gradually expanded and developed in three (short!) sections.
The finale, Marcato, is a kind of crazed March in which the performer begins with fairly straightforward on-the-beat plods, but must get faster and faster, perhaps breaking into a desperate sprint, until the music reaches a flourishing upward cadenza, and an ending recalling the spirit of the first movement.
24th February 2006, at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, performed by James Longstaffe. Also workshopped by James Gourlay at Leeds University, January 2006.
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