What’s wonderful about the Wagner tuba is the enthusiasm it generates from horn players when they begin to recognise its true value. We found a great example of this in a video clip on the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s YouTube Channel. It’s part of a great ‘In the car series’ of videos they’ve made where they feature some of the orchestra’s players and deliver a great Q&A session – all in a car on the way to the concert hall!
The style of presentation is familiar of course having been used in sports such as tennis where players are interviewed in a car on the way to a match. It makes for fun viewing and provides an interesting discussion. However, we’ve never seen it done with 4 Wagner tubas crammed into a car!
All the way through the video you can see and hear the delight of the players at the chance to share their enthusiasm. The Q&A element covers a variety of things including the history of the Wagner tuba, how Richard Wagner used it in his scoring and what sets the Wagner tuba apart from the French horn. The players explain that the instruments are on loan from Melbourne for their upcoming performance of Bruckner’s 7th symphony.
Of course you can’t have 4 Wagner tuba players together in a car and expect them to keep quiet and there are a couple of fun passages where you get to hear the sound of the instruments. The renditions are perhaps a little less perfect than the players would have liked due to unexpected bumps in the road and a few giggles! However, towards the end of the clip we are treated to a beautiful demonstration of the instrument’s tone and capacity for harmony.
Horn player David Kay (the front passenger) is asked to describe the sound of the Wagner tuba. The adjectives he uses are: “luscious, warm, rich”. We couldn’t agree more!