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Penderecki – Capriccio for Solo Tuba

Yes, I know this isn’t, but bear with me…

Sometimes I just want to write about good music – and if it happens to be relevant in some way, then great!

Capriccio for Solo Tuba by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-) is one of the cornerstones of the tuba repertoire, and it’s easy to see why:

Written in 1980 and commissioned by the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra, this is a real virtuoso tour-de-force for the solo tuba. It is in a rough ABA form with a humorous “Tempo de Valse” in the centre. It encompasses a huge range and makes use of glissandi, quasi-aleatoricism (highest/lowest pitch possible) and very large interval jumps.

Mickey Wrobleski spent time working on this piece in collaboration with the composer, and his article in the Winter 2001 TUBA Journal is required reading for those seeking to seriously prepare this piece for performance. It includes corrections to the published sheet music as well as stylistic points and tips for intelligent and appropriate choice of tempi.

But what about the trombone?

Well, for the advanced player with excellent technique and pedal range, this also makes a great recital piece for bass trombonists. There are no notes outside of reasonable range, and there are no major alterations to be made apart from finding an effective way to fake some of the glissandi.

This brilliant performance by Adam D. Jones makes me wonder why it isn’t played more often by trombonists!

In conclusion

Despite the technical difficulties and contemporary language, it is an attractive and characterful piece of music that is well worth persevering with. Preparing this to performance standard will be sure to improve all aspects of your playing, but especially pitching, large intervals and the pedal range.

Suggested Recordings: Benjamin Pierce from the album “Wheels of Life”

Buy the sheet music here at Amazon


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