Around the World in 80 Minutes

From the UK came another interpretation of the Musicathlon’s international theme.  The Royal Academy of Music (London) presented the Royal Academy Brass Soloists, directed by James Watson, in a short concert billed as “Around the World in Eighty Minutes.”  They meant that literally: the concet began with an English work (a trumpet voluntary) and moved eastward through France, Germany, Norway, Russia, China, Australia, USA, Ireland, and Switzerland.  Professor Watson narrated the journey, discussing the compositions and the arrangements, with CCOM Professor Liu Hongzhu translating.

The recital hall of the Central Conservatory was packed, with several listeners standing at the rear of the auditorium.  The audience responded warmly to the evening’s most unusual piece: a tuba solo by Norwegian composer Oystein Baadsvik.  Watson explained the use of multiphonics, an extended technique in which the soloist produces more than one note: in this piece, mainly by singing into the instrument while playing it.

The Royal Academy Brass Soloists finished with a Swiss piece reminiscent of Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony: the musicians gradually leave the stage until only the tuba players is left, playing a virtuosic cadenza. The remainder of the ensemble sneaked back on stage for the piece’s humorous finale.

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