Programme Notes – Fasolt’s Revenge

8 Minutes
Scoring: Two Tuba quartets: (4 Tenor Tubas, 4 Bass Tubas)
2 Percussionists:
2 Bass Drums, tubular bells

Fasolt and Fafner are the two giant brothers that appear together in ‘Das Rhinegold’; the first of the series of music dramas that make up Wagner’s massive series of music dramas that make up ‘Der Ring Des Nibelungen. They are entrusted with building the stronghold of Walhalla for Wotan, the chief of the gods. Eventually they quarrel over the means of payment for this task and Fafner beats Fasolt to death taking the gold, and most crucially the Ring. In a later opera ‘Siegfried’ Fafner returns as a dragon and is slain by the fearless young Siegfried, but that’s another story.

For a while now I’ve been feeling a little bit sorry for Fasolt and I thought I’d try and redress the balance in his favour. So in this work I’ve represented the two giants as two tuba quartets, each with their own bass drum; and they get a chance to slug it out, twenty first-century style!

I don’t want to say too much about the structure of the piece, hoping that it will speak for itself. It follows a basic slow-fast-slow format and lasts eight minutes. Harmonically and melodically each quartet strictly stays within its own particular series of pitches; and there is discreet use of leitmotifs from Wagner’s ‘Ring’, including the drum rhythm of Siegfried’s death just before the end of the piece.

Fasolt’s Revenge was commissioned by the Tennessee Technical University Fine Arts Foundation for the 40th anniversary of the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble, and first performed at Tennessee Technological University on November 2 2006. It was subsequently performed at the Weill Recital hall at the Carnegie Hall in New York, and is available on a commercial recording on Mark Masters 6960 MCD.