From the composer:
"La mirada del Dragón" for solo tuba is dedicated to the memory of the great tuba player and teacher Mel Culbertson. It is inspired by Mel's lessons on the passage from Wagner's opera "Siegfried" when Fafner, the dragon guardian of the Nibelungen's treasure, appears.
The piece, best played on contrabass tuba, was premiered by the composer in May 2019 at the University of Iowa during the International Tuba-Euphonium Conference (ITEC). This work poses significant technical challenges for the musician owing to its contemporary composition techniques combined with the traditional demands of sonority and phrasing.
"La mirada del Dragón" is structured in four sections:
The first section evokes the awakening of the dragon, in which the deep sounds of the tuba combine with air effects to create a lazy, dreary atmosphere.
In the second section, the dragon, hungry and furious, leaves his cave in search of food and does not hesitate to threaten all beings that stand in his way. Frulattos and glissandos, combined with large intervals and a rapid tempo, invoke the struggle for survival in the animal world.
The scherzando of the third section depicts a Fafner struggling to rid his mind of the greed that led him to kill his brother and steal the Nibelungen's gold. But Fafner's heart is cold and in the end he realized that he cannot fight against himself.
The fourth and final section of the piece show the angry dragon leaving the surrounding world and gradually returning to his refuge, where he locks himself back in his dreams.
I have never seen a real dragon, but if they ever have existed, I am certain that a dragon's gaze would be as sincere, deep and penetrating as Mel Culbertson's gaze. Perhaps I should call this piece "La mirada de Mel", don't you think?
- Eduardo Nogueroles
Part included: Tuba