Dan Price for Joe Cook
Mists On The River Wear is a ‘song and dance' for solo tuba. It was commissioned in 2010 by the Black Dyke Band's solo Eb Bass player and international tuba star Joseph Cook.
The work opens with unaccompanied tuba announcing a three note motif which is the basis for the entire work. The accompaniment enters in broken cluster chords which emulate the mist gliding on the river at early morning. The mist clears and the river motif ebbs to and fro whilst the tuba melody flows above.
Geographically, the River Wear passes past Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle as it works its way through the city and to reflect this musically there is an element of a renaissance dance in the centre of this movement in an attempt to capture the historic and physically dominating presence of these buildings within the city.
As the movement draws to a close there is a passage of light scoring which enables the soloist to demonstrate their ability at performing multi-phonics, a haunting sound which is eventually engulfed by the sound of the river broadening out as it travels on its journey.
In contrast to the lyrical first movement, this second movement showcases the versatility of the instrument and the agility of the soloist in a lively dance.
The dance begins in compound time and echoes the style of an English jig which represents the energetic life you find in the university city of Durham. There is a deliberate quote written into the theme of the jig which comes from the 1st Movement of Ralph Vaughan-Williams' Concerto for Bass Tuba, which Joseph and the composer share a fondness towards.
A brief return to the riverside opening material of the piece quickly leads us into a pseudo "Jazz" waltz, where cross rhythms between soloist and accompaniment gives the melody a sense of disjointedness and ambiguity. However, the music soon flows back into a reprise of the jig with a closing cadenza section that brings Mists On The River Wear to a close.