Music Reviews

Renaissance Instrumental Music by Edition Walhall

Giovan Battista Riccio, Canzonen und Sonaten (1620), ed.  Jolando Scarpa (Magdeburg: Edition Walhall, 2010), Catalog Nos. EW 705, 707, 709.

Three volumes of Jolando Scarpa’s urtext edition of Giovanni Battista Riccio’s Il Terzo Libro delle Divine Lodi Musicali (Venice 1620) are devoted to the instrumental works that appear among the motets in this collection.  Mostly canzonas for one, two, and four players with bass, these works reveal a degree of ornamental floridity and “seconda pratica” expressive idiom—chromatic passages with tremoli, for instance—although neither aspect is extreme, allowing the traditional lightness, directness, and architectural clarity of the genre to predominate.  Generic conventions of scoring make these pieces appropriate for diverse combinations; however, Riccio in some instances specifies the familiar cornetts, trombones, and violins, and in one case, the engaging combination of flautino (a small recorder) and bassoon.

The edition is a spare one, preserving original note values and coloration, with the editorial hand evident mostly in the addition of accidentals and clarifications of dynamics.  The preface to the edition presumably serves for all the volumes in the collection, but there is little in the way of specific discussion of the instrumental pieces or performance issues.  Experienced players, however, will navigate these scores with ease.  Though not new to the repertory—the facsimile edition by SPES has been available for thirty years—these canzonas are gratifying to play and hear, and in this new modern edition, may find new devotees.

Thomas Mancinus, Duum vocum Cantiuncularum (1597),  ed. Leopold Fendt (Magdeburg: Edition Walhall, 2009),  Catalog No. EW 759.

The late Renaissance duet’s best known exemplars are those from Lasso’s Novae aliquot . . . (1577), a collection whose intent is pedagogical, but whose didactic purpose rarely seems to keep the composer’s musical touch at bay.  Thomas Mancinus’s collection, Duum vocum Cantiuncularum, follows in the same vein.  A collection of 26 duets, some texted but the majority not, Mancinus offers bicinia for unequal and equal voices in all ranges.  The texted works set secular texts in Italian, French, and German, and include well-known madrigal texts such as “Anchor che col partire.”  The untexted works are essays in imitation. The lack of specified instruments makes it easy to imagine them performed in diverse instrumental combinations.

As teaching and practice material or as music to while away a domestic evening, these duets admirably meet the need, though they will fare less happily in concert performance.  This new edition is thus a welcome addition to the teacher’s shelf, and a congenial reminder of the way musicians in the sixteenth century both taught and learned.

Alessandro Scarlatti.  Recit. & Aria: “Se geloso è il mio core” from Endimione e Cintia for soprano, trumpet, two violins, violoncello & continuo, ed. Cedric Lee (Magdeburg: Green Man Press/ Edition Walhall, 2010),  Catalog No. Sca 8.

Scarlatti’s prolificacy in the realm of chamber cantatas is impressive by any count, and trumpeters have long been grateful that in them he used the trumpet in so gratifying a way.  The best known instance is “Su le sponde del Tebro,” but as the present excerpt from Endimione e Cintia shows, Scarlatti uses the same idiom elsewhere to splendid effect.  In the aria “Se geloso,” Endymion reflects on the inner battle that jealousy launches in his soul, and with the battle imagery explicit, Scarlatti adopts the idioms of the aria di bravura, familiar from heroic scenes on the opera stage.  Melismatic prolixity becomes the metaphor for virile strength, while trumpet and voice engage in short motivic repetitions that lead into a long display of melismatic fortitude in parallel thirds.

The edition is not the first—Gerald Endsley’s from Tromba Publications appeared in the mid-1970’s—but Cedric Lee’s attention to production values and detail makes for a strong replacement.  The edition’s inclusion of two continuo parts, one realized and one not, is also a particularly welcome touch.

-- Steven Plank

Trumpet Fanfares by Buhl and Others, Wolfgang Haas

buhlfanfaretirolerfanfareberlinerfanfareDavid Buhl. Six Fanfares for 4 trumpets (1799) and Six Quick Step Marches for 4 trumpets (1806). Edited and arranged by Edward H. Tarr and Jean-François Madeuf. Wolfgang Haas Musikverlag, ISMIN M-2054-1031-2. Pub. 2009.

Anon. 18th century. 61 Tiroler Aufzüge for 3 or 4 trumpets and timpani. Edited and arranged by Hildegard Hermann-Schneider and Albert Hiller. Wolfgang Haas Musikverlag ISMN M- 2054-0673-8. Pub. 2007

Anon. 12 Berliner Stadtschloss-Fanfaren for 3 natural trumpets and timpani. Edited and arranged by Horst Pichler. ISMN 2054-1124-4. Pub. 2009

These three recent editions brought out by Wolfgang Haas Musikverlag are a most welcome addition to the natural trumpet ensemble repertoire. They bring a variety of interesting and enjoyable music to the table. The collection of music from the Tirol is from the Stams Collection and is part of the monastic archive of the Cistercians at Oberinntal. It represents a small part of the rich treasures of the Tirol. The extensive notes are only in German for this edition and the Berliner edition as well. (I thank Steve Plank for his expertise in translating them for me.). In this handwritten source, only two of the three parts are complete. A substantial part of the first clarino is lost and some of the second clarino as well. The editors used the Weyarn collection in Bavaria as a model in which to reconstruct the missing parts. They do a most convincing job as the fanfares have a completely authentic sound. It is quite obvious that they have well absorbed the stylistic subtleties of clarino writing. The writing is relatively conservative with a modest range. The first part ascending to a’’ above the staff and the parts are mostly in duple time and some times in 6/8. The writing takes an occasional rhythmic flourish, such as in fanfare no. 41 with a figure of 16th note triple followed by two 16th notes.

Arban/Vizzutti Complete Method for Trumpet

arbanArban, Jean-Baptiste. Complete Method for Trumpet. Annotated and Edited by Alan Vizzutti and Wesley Jacobs. Maple City, Michigan: Encore Music Publishers, 2007. 408 Pages. ISMN M-800004-03-2 $56.95
During the mid-nineteenth century the piston cornet as we now know it began to emerge from a tangle of various chromatic brass inventions. It survived among creatures such as the cornopeans, saxhorns, keys, rotors, levers, valves (Stoetzel, Perrinet et al.), and an array of many advancements, failures, dead ends, and experiments.  As evolution sorted through this primordial stew, an intelligent designer also emerged (my apologies Niles Eldridge!) to help guide the process to success.
It is not a coincidence that the life of Joseph Jean Baptist Laurent Arban (1825-1889) spans this same period. His life’s work, contributions, interest in and influence upon this new instrument were singularly critical to the emergence, acceptance, and success of this addition to the brass family. Arban was a performer, teacher, innovator, and tireless advocate for the cornet. From his birth in 1825 to his appointment to the newly-created position of professor of cornet at the Paris Conservatory in 1857, he became a most remarkable and pivotal contributor to this large and rapid advance in the evolution of brass instruments. It is not generally known that he had even collaborated with other leading figures, including Adolph Sax and Antoine Courtois, among others, to engineer mechanical improvements on the instrument.
For most of his professional life he remained an active performer. As an accomplished and successful soloist Arban constantly demonstrated and championed the cornet’s remarkable new capabilities. His efforts almost singlehandedly helped to cement the instrument in Western music, as he persuaded composers and performers alike to use this labrosone to great success . Within a relatively short period of time the cornet began appearing in many different musical venues. Music of high and low art, popular, civic, military, opera, symphony, sacred, folk, chamber, and solo virtuosic: there seemed to be no area of music in which this newcomer failed to succeed. 

D'Indy Rondino for Trumpets

Rondino for 4 trumpets in Eb by Vincent D'Indy. Jean-Louis Courturier, editor. Alphonse Leduc, Éditions Musicales. Pub. 2008.

This short work (less than one minute) by Vincent D'Indy (1851-1931) is housed in the Nationale de France (Ms. 9236) and bears the date 18 July 1911. Courturier conjectures that it was probably written for the trompette d'ordonnance in Eb, a ceremonial instrument adopted by the French army. Modest in range and technique, the first trumpet part covers the range of a 10th from E to g' and the second part just covers the E to e' octave but does employ the 7th partial, a third-line Bb. While it is only 42 measures in length, the piece is quite charming and bears the mark of a master composer, making use of the trumpet's dynamic capabilities with dynamics ranging from piano to fortissimo. The third trumpet part provides rhythmic interest and the fourth gives a standard principale function. Editor Jean-Louis Courturier provides a short note on the work and a brief biography of D'Indy in four languages (French, English, German, Italian). The score and individual parts are beautifully printed on sturdy bond paper as is the norm for Alphonse Leduc publications. This is a valuable edition for the brass community.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum

New From Edition Walhall

Three new publications of note have arrived from Edition Walhall. Of greatest interest, perhaps, is the Overture in D TWV55: D17 for two trumpets and organ. This edition by Johan Plietzsch, from an original in the Hessische Hochschul und Landesbibliothek in Darmstadt, is in the style of a French overture-suite. This magnificent overture is followed by dance movements entitled Les janissaries, two minuets, an Espagniole, Carillon, A la Trompette, and Bouree. The trumpet parts are challenging, reaching the high D several times. Very interesting organ writing compliments the trumpet parts and gives them rests in strategic places. Each movement could stand alone in performance, but one feels that the greatest statement would be a performance of it in its entirety.

The second publication is the wonderful Cantata BWV 51 of Johann Sebastian Bach. Edition Walhall has chosen to offer this as an arrangement for soprano, trumpet, and organ, with the string parts incorporated into the organ part. The editor, Reinhard Ardelt, makes it clear in his notes that while there exist several similar arrangements, this one is a literal transcription of the string parts, deviating only when doing so would create severe technical problems for the organist. The reviewer is ambivalent about the merits of this offering. It is understood that difficulties often exist in finding suitable string players and coordinating schedules. The questions left to the Historic Brass Society members are whether this approach is justified given our generally accepted goal of offering performances that most closely resemble what the composer would have heard and how far from that we should allow ourselves to stray.

Belcke, Duo Concertant for two trombones

Friedrich-August Belcke. Duo Concertant for two trombones, Op. 55. Edited by Raymond Lapie. Vuarmarens, Switzerland: The Brass Press (Editions BIM), 1999. Catalogue no. TB 50. Ca. $17.00

Friedrich-August Belcke (1795-1874) was one of the most celebrated trombone virtuosos of the first half of the nineteenth century. A member of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (1815-16) and the royal court orchestra in Berlin (1816-58), he undertook many concert tours as a soloist through Germany, to Scandinavia, Holland, the Austrian Empire, and France. The Duo Concertant op. 55 is one of a number of works Belcke composed for trombone.

Belcke's Duo Concertant is in three movements: Allegro moderato, Adagio, and Rondo-Allegro. Like most of the solo trombone literature of the first half of the nineteenth century, the Duo, too, was composed for "bass" trombones, the German bass trombone of the time actually being a large-bore tenor trombone in B-flat with a mouthpiece somewhat larger than that used on tenor. This is reflected here in the ranges of the parts: F to c2 in the first trombone, F to b-flat1 in the second (with one optional E-flat). The two trombones are treated equally for the most part, with lively eighth-note triplet and sixteenth-note passages as well as the melody line being traded off between the two instruments throughout the piece. The only appreciable difference is the presence of several trills only in the first trombone part.

Music for Voice and Trombone from Warwick Music

Dario Castello - Sonata No. 4 from Sonate Concertate Book I (1658)
For Trombone, Soprano Instrument and Keyboard
Realized and edited by Richard I. Schwartz and Mark J. La Fratta

Antonio Caldara - Deh sciogliete, o mesti lumi from Morte e Sepoltura di Cristo (1724)
For Alto & Tenor Trombones, Soprano and Keyboard
Arranged by Richard I. Schwartz and Mark J. La Fratta

Antonio Caldara - Dio, qual sia from Nabaoth (c. 1729)
For Alto Trombone, Soprano, Bassoon & Keyboard
Arranged by Richard I. Schwartz and Mark J. La Fratta

Johann Joseph Fux - Alma Redemptoris Mater, K. 186 (c1728)
For Alto Trombone, Soprano & Keyboard
Arranged by Richard I. Schwartz and Mark J. La Fratta

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Agnus Dei from Waisenhausmesse, K. 139 (1768)
For Alto Trombone, Soprano & Keyboard
Arranged by Mark J. La Fratta and edited by Richard I. Schwartz

With the exception of the first piece that is an edition, theses works are from a series published by Warwick Music that Schwartz and La Fratta are producing of arrangements of arias for voice and obbligato trombone(s) from the 18th-century sacred repertory of the Viennese Imperial Court. Only two of the five pieces are available in other editions, making these works a welcome addition to the trombonist's repertoire.

Trumpet Music from The Brass Press

Suites and Sonatinas for 2 Natural Trumpets or Horns by [James?] Oswald and Mr. Messing. Edited by Bryan Proksch. The Brass Press

30 Marches for 4 Trumpets and Timpani. Edited by Bryan Proksch. The Brass Press

Bryan Proksch has brought to light some interesting and lovely trumpet repertoire and, in the case of the duets, has found it in an unlikely source. These pieces attributed to James Oswald (1710-1769) and a Mr. Messing appear in John Simpson's The Delightful Pocket Companion for the German Flute (1745). The pieces in the collection are arranged for flute but Proksch concludes that they were originally conceived for natural trumpet or horn, despite the fact that a few pieces contain notes outside of the harmonic series. For this edition Proksch has altered those notes but meticulously indicates all alterations from the original 1745 edition. Nine airs attributed to Oswald are modest dance pieces that, along with the other works in this collection, were undoubtedly intended for amateur use. The six airs by Messing are somewhat more demanding, occasionally ascending to written high c'''. There are a number of rhythmically florid lines but still well within the expected vocabulary of typical 18th-century English trumpet music. There are two anonymous multimovement duets that also fall within the harmonic language of trumpet repertoire, occasionally stepping outside of those limitations. Again, Proksch has edited these pieces for performance by a natural instrument.