By Brian Bindner, 2./3./Utility Trombone with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Here´s some thoughts on playing the Mahler 7 Tenor horn part. Having just ended a week where I had the pleasure of performing the part with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, with Fabio Luisi at the helm - I noticed a couple of things flying through my mind that, to me, really nailed why this part is so hard to play.
- If you ( like me ) don´t play the Tenor Horn or Euphonium on a regular basis - it can be tricky to have complete trust in your horns intonation. What I find works the best to ensure a good level of intonation on your euphonium/baritone, is to ask your colleges to play some slow scales with you. Preferably F sharp scales, since that´s the note you start out with. Even if you have a good set of ears, and normally don´t have issues with intonation, it´s such a big help to have your colleges help you out, relieving some of the stress by playing this solo.
- Be happy that YOU got the permission to play the part, and to be trusted to open the whole Symphony with your solo. This rarely happens to any brass player ( except the Trumpet in Mahler 5 ), so embrace it - buckle up, and charge ahead! Take 4-5 minutes 10 times per day in the week leading up to the concert and meditate/visualize your self in the hall, playing the solo.
- Tenor horn/Euphonium? It´s all a matter of taste. If you´re lucky, you get to choose your self which instrument you play on, but often the conductor has an opinion too. To me, I find it hard to get the notes as full and heavy as the part demands on a tenor horn. My pick will always be an Euphonium - but not as big as the Hirschbrunner´s - go for a horn that rings well in the high register, and where you can clearly get the attack of the notes out in the hall.
Have a listen to 3 different examples below - by Nico Shippers ( Concertgebouw, Netherland:
Denson Paul Pollard - The Metropolitan Opera, New York:
Brian Bindner - Danish National Symphony Orchestra: