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OWEN, Jerry. Variations

Solo Euphonium with band accompaniment
Performance level: College (IV/V)
Performance time: 6'45"
Ranges: Bb to d"

Jerry Owen wrote Variations (originally called Elkhorn Variations) for Rich Matteson while Mr. Matteson was a clinician for the Getzen Company. It is a contemporary piece, leaning toward the commercial side. It ranges from Bb to d" (to an optional g"), with most of the playing from g to a". The band parts are not as difficult as the solo and could be performed by a good high school band. Variations is a one movement work, with a theme and five variations.

The opening of the piece is marked "Majestically" and uses the Euphonium right from the first bar to state the legato theme, After a short rubato section it moves directly into Variation I (quarter = 112), at first using only the snare drum and staccato Euphonium. It requires a light style and very clean sixteenth-note tonguing.

Variation II is in 6/8, marked "Somewhat slower." While it does not require a great deal of technique, some extra rehearsal time may be necessary to fit the solo with the band. Here we find some "three against two" and some 3/4 against 6/8.

Variation III is in slow 4/4 (quarter = 76) and very legato. It ends with a short cadenza which leads right into the next variation.

Variation IV is in slow 4/4 (quarter = 80), this time in a "bluesy" style. A good feel for jazz will be very helpful, as will a free sounding high register.

Variation V goes into 12/8 at dotted quarter = 96 and contrasts the solo with a 6/4 accompaniment. The first and last parts of this variation are in a rather "punchy" style, with a dynamic range from f to ff. The center section is more lyrical and provides a nice contrast in style. The variation ends at ff and leads right into a written cadenza. The cadenza goes out in tempo, leading into a six-bar coda with the band marked "fff, agitated",

To my ears the only real weakness in the piece is the last part of the written cadenza. It doesn't develop enough energy to lead effectively to the coda. The performer might do well to come up with a fiery cadenza ending that starts to build the excitement before the band comes in,

That one point aside, we have here a very nice addition to the literature. Played well, the piece has good crowd appeal and gives the soloist a chance to show a different side of Euphonium playing.

Variations is published by Cimarron Music Press.

It is available with concert band or piano accompaniment. (Note: click the following to hear an MP3 file of Variations.)

David R, Werden

NOTE: this article is reprinted from Euphonia magazine, January, 1979, with permission of the publisher, Glenn Call.

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