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Thread: Mars - To Vibrato We Go

  1. #1

    Mars - To Vibrato We Go

    Something that has intrigued me for a few years now has been the existence of this recording of Mars, from Zubin Mehta and the LA Phil from 1971:
    https://youtu.be/l10ibGxSXGg

    If you listen to the Euphonium player, he plays with a very fast and narrow vibrato - completely going against the performance practice I was taught. I was told that the Mars excerpt and solos for Tenor Tuba are french horn hunting calls, calling the demons of the underworld to war. They are to be played as such, with straight tone and NO vibrato, like a hunting call.

    So the existence of this recording, from one of the all-time great conductors and all-time great orchestras, with Roger Bobo and Tommy Johnson on Tuba is just SO puzzling.

    I've been trying to get answers for a few years now why this performance exists. How could a section with Tommy and Bobo allow this recording to exist? It didn't make sense to me. My undergrad teacher, Tony Clements, who studied with both Roger Bobo and Tommy Johnson, told me that it was the performance practice at the time. That wasn't that helpful to me, as other recordings then should exist with this "British-style Brass Band" vibrato but none do, as far as I know (and I haven't researched much.)

    So recently this came up again and I decided to e-mail Maestro Bobo to get his take and here is his conclusive answer:
    Hello Jacob,

    You observations are absolutely correct. Frankly, Mr.Marsteller, who was the teacher of both Tommy and me, was a little old fashioned when he played euphonium. All of* us during that session wished he hadnít used that vibrato. Your instincts are correct.


    Roger
    So there you have it - Robert Marstellar was the player and used his own interpretation for this performance, to the chagrin of his students (and their students and grand-students!)
    Adams E3 0.6 with SS Bell
    K&G 3.5D
    ---------------------------------
    Founder and Solo Euphonium
    San Francisco Brass Band

  2. #2
    Very interesting, thanks for sharing this. This is the first I have heard this recording of Planets. I think that some things with the tenor tuba solo come across well (projection, tone, articulation, rhythm), but yeah the choice to play it with that fast narrow vibrato doesn't really seem to work.

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