Review: ITEA JOURNAL VOLUME 39 NUMBER 2 (WINTER 2012)
Journey Through Space: A Gallactic Tone Poem is a fun, dynamic piece written for four euphoniums and four tubas. The work is quite tonal in nature although O’Toole does not shy from dissonance. His use of the euphonium and tuba sonorities is fantastic as he expertly writes for the voices individually as well as together. He creates tremendous interest for the listener as he consistently moves from transparent, solo parts totutti sections letting the each voice of the ensemble take the melody at times. Educationally, this is tremendous as well as every member of the ensemble becomes the leader at some point during the piece.
The work begins in an andante tempo with the euphoniums creating a soft, ethereal setting. The slow dramatic swells of sound create a great basis for the work and put us in the mood for what is to come. It really does sound like a soundtrack to traveling through space. It continues to build adding the low voices as the tempo increases. The tempo ignites at quartet note equals 150 and is labeled fierce. The work now becomes technical setting up an image of bumps in the road (or maybe traveling through an asteroid field!). There are numerous meter changes that add to the uneasiness of this section. An andante con moto comes back briefly with a beautiful euphonium solo over the rest of the voices. It grows again and launches into an allegro giocoso with quartet note at 152. This sets up an intense conclusion moving between large, tutti sections at forte and soft rhythmic, bouncy sections. The drama continues until we are pulled back into the soft, ethereal world that we began the piece. A restatement of the original theme leads us to a freely written, pianissimo conclusion making use of rubato.
The range for euphonium is G - c2. The tuba range is CC - e-flat1. The work is suited well for a college tuba-euphonium ensemble. The ensemble needs to be comfortable with mixed meters as they are prevalent throughout. The range of the first tuba part is not too high (it only peaks at e-flat1) but I would suggest the use of a F or Eb tuba as is stays consistently in the upper register. The score and parts are clearly printed and easy to read.