The convergence on this disc of horn-playing composer Gunther Schuller (1925-2015) and tuba virtuoso Aaron Tindall in Concerto No.2 for Contrabass Tuba and Symphony Orchestra (2008) is highly successful. Professional French horn player Schuller’s orchestration skills and affinity for low-registered instruments are evident; at the opening the solo tuba emerges wonderfully from darkness. With the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra under Jeffrey Meyer, Tindall gives an adept, eloquent recording of this mostly expressionist concerto. Horn-tuba affinity recurs in Dana Wilson’s (b.1946) Concerto for Tuba and Wind Ensemble (2013). It begins with an offstage horn echoing the tuba, and continues with motifs over a minimalist weave. Tindall’s melodic shaping and building together with the Ithaca Wind Ensemble in the second movement is remarkable, but unfortunately the composer’s turn to a jazz finale is awkward.
Harmonien (2006) by Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) is played here on tuba, not the original bass clarinet. Including a wealth of sounds and processes, it is a solo tour de force for Tindall. The composer’s claims of colour and time-of-day associations do not resonate with me, though. The bold Are You Experienced? for electric tuba, narrator, and chamber orchestra (1987-89) by David Lang (b.1957) would ideally be best experienced live or on DVD. Its imaginative take on the situation of having received a brain injury breaks new ground, and Tindall’s evocation of Jimmy Hendrix’s fuzz-tone guitar on the electric tuba is truly amazing!