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Hartley. Walter S., Bivalve Suite


Philharmusica Corp. New York, 1971
Performance Level: College
Performance Time: 3:00

Mr. Walter S. Hartley, one of the fine composers on the contemporary American scene, has come out with a good one in this recital duet for euphonium and tuba.

The first movement, "Allegro Moderato" in cut time, is touchy. The tuba plays through a very wide range (GG to d-flat). And the euphonium is given a bit over two octaves (G to a-flat). The difficulty comes in coordinating the tricky syncopated rhythms near the end of the movement. Long sessions with the metronome and with the tuba player are highly recommended in working out this section.

The second movement, a quiet "Lento" in 3/4, serves as an arena to display the singing qualities of each instrument: similar to a point, but each distinct in its timbre. The melody is first given to the tuba, then passed back and forth contrapuntally. Two points to watch out for here are:

  1. A good firm EE-flat in the tuba at the end. Keep it well supported with the diaphragm and a good healthy breath. It should not lose its pitch or presence even at the "pianississimo" dynamic indication,
  2. Take care that the staccato quarter notes are given their due in terms of pitch. It is too easy to ignore the tone and pitch in such cases.

The final movement, "Presto", should not sacrifice speed for clarity, but given some work on the meter shifts from "Alla Breve" to 6/8, it should prove to be a good showcase for some of the technical capabilities of both instruments. Audience appeal is added by Mr. Hartley in the form of the easily recognized tunes, "Pop Goes the Weasel" and "Anchors Aweigh". Double tongueing will be helpful here, and strict adhereance to dynamics will pay off in an exciting ending. As with the first movement, this movement will benefit greatly from serious woodshedding.

The Bivalve Suite is a useful addition to the college recital repertoire. It will serve nicely as a break for both your accompanist and for your audience...at least if you are art to avoid a lot of "bivalves" (clams) in the performance. Practice!

Lee A. Dummer,
Associate Editor

NOTE: this article is reprinted from Euphonia magazine, October, 1977, with permission of the publisher, Glenn Call.


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