Review: ITEA JOURNAL VOLUME 39 NUMBER 1 (FALL 2011)
Composer Anthony O’Toole is a former student in theory and composition at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Shake and Bake is one of several pieces written by Mr. O’Toole for tuba/euphonium. Other offerings include a tuba concerto, euphonium concerto, and works for wind ensemble. Shake and Bake is one of 2 works for tuba quartet commissioned from Mr. O’Toole by the Crimson Quartet, a student tuba-euphonium quartet at IUP.
The primary source material for this work is the popular Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts.” Compared to many of the Coplandesque settings of Simple Gifts that exist, Mr. O’Toole’s approach is refreshingly original. Instead of the traditional variations on the theme, the focus here is on the rhythmic and textural treatment of the material, with the hymn appearing in fragmented sections for most of the piece. After a brief Andanteintroduction underlined by open 5ths in the background, the piece charges into a driving rhythmic style that it maintains throughout (hence the title Shake and Bake).
A performance of this work requires an ensemble that is rhythmically sound and well balanced. There are several challenging meter changes, including a quick change from 4/4 to 3/4 to 3/8. Though the bulk of the work is fast paced, Mr. O’Toole creates variety through numerous changes in texture. The ensemble is required to balance as a quartet in some sections, in other sections as two duets, and often as a trio accompanying a solo line. Ensemble articulation will be thoroughly tested through a variety of staccato, marcato, and accented styles. Overall, Shake and Bakeis a unique and fun approach to a traditional hymn that offers numerous challenges for the ensemble.