Carol Jentsch, tuba
2014 Temple University Symphony Orchestra
Review: Daugherty’s Evocative Reflections on the Mississippi
by David Hurwitz
Reflections on the Mississippi is a tuba concerto, one of the few that probably stands a chance of entering the repertoire and becoming a popular favorite. That brings the viable repertoire for tuba and orchestra to a total of two works, the other being the Vaughan Williams concerto. The sad truth is that most tuba concertos are simply terrible and richly deserve their obscurity, but Michael Daugherty has given the music a great deal of thought and has come up with an evocative quartet of movements (Mist, Fury, Prayer, Steamboat) that permits the soloist a huge range of expression in a style–typically tinged with rock, pop, gospel, and jazz–that suits the instrument singularly well.
The piece was commissioned by Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, and it’s sensationally well played by Philadelphia Orchestra tubist Carol Jantsch. Her tone is deep and mysterious in the opening movement, and her feats of acrobatics amazingly nimble in “Fury” and the concluding “Steamboat”. It helps that the music itself overflows (no pun intended) with good tunes, humor, and character. The Temple University Symphony Orchestra under conductor Luis Biava accompanies with plenty of confidence and pizzazz, and sounds fully professional in the best sense. This is a major new work, and the College should be proud of its role in bringing it to the light of day.