Paul Dukas
Vocalise-étude (alla gitana): for tuba (or bass trombone) and piano

Arranged by Ralph Sauer

for tuba (or bass trombone) and piano

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2015


Perhaps best known for his L’apprenti sorcier or the ballet La Péri, Paul Dukas composed a relatively small number of works, devoting himself to teaching later in life. His Vocalise-étude (alla gitana) from 1909, having previously been arranged for flute, oboe, clarinet, alto sax, and cello among others, is now available for tuba and bass trombone thanks to Ralph Sauer’s growing catalogue with Cherry Classics Music.

The signature of the opening theme, and one that is common throughout the piece, is an ascending sixteenth-note passage that begins on the second sixteenth note of the beat. From there the melody gently unfolds either through faster ornaments or by smoothly descending to a cadence. There is a short interlude consisting of a similar theme, but slower, where Mr. Sauer has made subtle alterations to the ends of phrases to aid in breathing, before returning to the original thematic material that peaks both dynamically and rhythmically about two-thirds of the way through the piece.

In addition to being lovely music, this piece serves as an excellent pedagogical exercise for legato playing. The long fluid lines are not overtly challenging but require precise coordination between slide and tongue through continuous sixteenth-notes, sextuplets, and more, especially as partials are often crossed. A mastery of legato and expressive playing on this piece will most certainly lead to improvements that a player can later apply to more challenging works. The entire solo part is in bass clef and the melodic range, C to b, makes it quite approachable for tuba or bass trombone. This short work by Dukas is a nice addition to the repertoire and it is perfectly suited for a recital or jury performance.


Reviewer: Eric High
Review Published January 31, 2019