Music Reviews

Ca. 1700 Sinfonia a due Trombe (arranged)

Anonymus (1700) Sinfonia a due Trombe arranged for 4 trumpets and continuo. Edition Immer, Musikverlag Martin Schmid, SM50591. 2015.

Friedemann Immer has presented a very clever arrangement of an anonymous  work from the Torelli-school for two trumpets and continuo. This duo was first published by Ed Tarr in 1975 by the Brass Press. An easy piece it’s not! It’s a long blow and while not in the highest tessitura, does consistently stay in the C” to C ‘’’ octave with long flurries of sixteenth notes. What Friedemann Immer has done is simply break up the passages between trumpets one and two and then given over to trumpets three and four. Thus he maintains the integrity of the composition and gives the trumpeters enough rests to have a reasonable chance of getting through the piece without collapse. In the last two bars Immer allows all four trumpets to play together by writing in some octave doublings and simple harmonies ending with a very effective conclusion. Martin Schmid’s publication is published with a large and readable font on sturdy stock as is the norm for his music editions. Those who attended the 2012 HBS Symposium in NYC had the chance to hear him join his colleagues in a wonderful natural trumpet ensemble performance of this work.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum

Ligner, 50 Exercises: Sur Le Coup de Langue Ternaire

Felix Désiré Ligner, 50 Exercises: Sur Le Coup de Langue Ternaire (1876), ed. Henry Howey. Cimarron Music Press CM 2804.

At the 2015 HBS Early Brass Festival at Oberlin College, Henry Howey gave an intriguing talk on Ligner’s etudes. Born in Paris in 1842, Ligner enrolled in the band of the Garde de Paris in 1864 as a “musician, second class.” The source used here is housed in the Bibliotheque nationale de France along with 92 other works by the now little-known musician; these include solos and band arrangements. Howey notes that he became aware of and purchased a copy at a used book and music store while participating in the 1999 HBS Conference in Paris.

According to Howey, this short etude book is significant in that it questions a basic component of wind articulations that has been a corner stone of brass articulation as explained by none other than Arban in his method book. A complex topic, Howey uses Ed Tarr and Bruce Dickey’s monumental Articulation in Early Wind Music as a source for explaining his thesis. The issue involves the K sound in the triple tonguing instruction TTK. Howey contends that Ligner has the K made with the tip of the tongue “anchored” against the lower teeth. The etude book contains mostly triplet figures guiding the trumpeter from relatively simple figures to more and more complex ones, all with the intent of employing a placement of the anchored tongue which is different from the Arban’s suggested practice. Henry Howey has included a diagram of the face, teeth, throat and tongue to further help explain the tongue placement for the proper articulation. We look forward to reading a more detailed study and explanation of this fascinating topic.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum

Louis Gérin (1837-1915): Concertino for B flat for Cornet


Louis Gérin (1837-1915) Concertino for B flat Cornet and Piano. Edited by Jean-Louis Couturier. Paris: Sempre piu Editions (SP0169), 2015.

Jean-Louis Couturier has once again found a wonderful little-known gem of the 19th century cornet repertoire. This four-movement piece (Allegro, Même movement, Andante, and Polonaise) by Louis Gérin captures all the charm of the genre. The work has a range ab to f’’ and is filled with a multitude of fully chromatic, lyrical melodies that modulate through a series of key changes. The Concertino is of moderate difficulty but thoroughly enjoyable both to play and hear.

Louis Gérin has escaped mention in the standard reference sources including Rick Schwartz’s comprehensive Cornet Compendium and Appendix. Fortunately, Couturier has provided some biographical information. Gérin was born on April 4, 1837 in Toulouse and taught cornet at the Lyon Conservatoire from October 1874 to October 1905. The source of this Concertino is in the Bibliothéque Nationale de France (Call number Vm9- 1222) and was first published in 1900 by O. Bornemann in Paris. The composition is dedicated to Monsieur Aimé Gros, Director of the Lyon Conservatoire and Public Education Officer. Gérin published several brass methods including the Grande method de cornet á pistons (1881), the Méthode de trombone á pistons (1893), and the Nouvelle method de saxhorn (1893). We owe Jean-Louis Couturier a debt of thanks for not only bringing to light this wonderful cornet solo but for not allowing the name of Louis Gérin to fade into complete obscurity.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum

Babillarde by Jean-Baptise Arban

for Cornet and Paino by Jean-Baptise Arban (1825-1889). Edited by Jean-Louis Couturier. Resonata Music (2015) RM00052.

Jean-Louis Couturier must spend half of his waking moments in the Bibliothèque Nationale but we are the beneficiaries of his many wonderful discoveries of rare brass music. This work by the celebrated author of the cornet and trumpet “bible” is the latest in the line of many fine works Couturier has brought to light. Babillarde originally published by Brandus et Dufour (Paris, 1877), is a relatively short polka (126 measures) with all the flashy and splashy double and triple tonguing passages expected from a showpiece. While the range is not extreme (c’ to a’’), endurance is definitely a major factor in performing this piece as rests are few and are far between. Babillarde is a thoroughly enjoyable work and a welcome addition to the cornet/trumpet repertoire. Resonata has published a very readable edition with large font and appropriate spacing. Thanks again to Jean-Louis Couturier for his wonderful editions of rare brass music.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum

Weckmann Instrumental Sonatas


Matthias Weckmann, Sonate à 3 e 4 istromenti, D-Lr KN207, Heft 14: 10 Sonatas for Violin, Cornettino, Trombone (or Viola da Gamba / da Braccio), Bassoon (or Bombard) and Basso Continuo. Ed. Helen Roberts. Frome, UK: Septenary Editions, 2013.

Septenary Editions is a relatively new publishing house started in 2013 by instrumentalists Helen Roberts (cornetto) and Caroline Ritchie (viola da gamba), in order to create practical editions of early music for performance. According to Roberts, they “specialize in previously unpublished material and under-represented composers and works, using both pdf downloads and printed formats.” Their company is not-for-profit—perhaps some issues with the printed edition may be due to this situation. Proceeds go towards creating bursaries that unaffiliated researchers may apply for, in order to acquire digital copies, microfilms and library permissions, or to cover any other expenses incurred in working with any primary sources necessary for creating an edition.

Certainly publishing Matthias Weckmann’s ten sonatas fulfills both the company’s goals and the need for a modern edition of these beautiful and virtuosic pieces by a relatively unknown composer. Weckmann (ca. 1616–74), an organist, was probably the finest student of Heinrich Schütz and a good friend of another Schütz pupil, Christoph Bernhard. In addition, he studied with Jacob Praetorius (a student of Sweelinck) and Heinrich Scheidemann, working in the early part of his career at the Elector of Saxony’s court in Dresden and the Danish royal court at Nykøbing. In 1655 he won the organ positions at both the Jacobikirche in Hamburg and the Gertrudenkapelle, with which the church was associated, and spent the rest of his career there. These sonatas were composed between 1660 and 1674 for the Collegium Musicum that Weckmann founded in the Hanseatic League in 1660. Unfortunately the foreword of this edition by Roberts does not provide much of this information, and some of what is presented is incorrect. Weckmann was never a Kapellmeister at Dresden—he was a court organist, but the highest position he attained there was as inspector of the electoral chapel. Weckmann founded the Hamburg Collegium on his own, and I remain mystified by the phrase “he was influenced heavily by the English virginalists he met during his employment in Dresden and Copenhagen.” The term “virginalist” in itself is rather old-fashioned, referring to the generation of Byrd, Tomkins, Gibbons, and Bull (a full generation before Weckmann), and is rarely used nowadays since these musicians played other keyboards as well. Perhaps the author means English musicians or composers, as both were plentiful at these courts. The English virginalist John Price was at Dresden from 1629 to 1633, but Weckmann was very young at this time, and still a discantist. The only reference I could find associating Weckmann with English virginalists is in Gerhard Ilgner’s tome of 1939. Here Ilgner was refers to Hamburg, when Schütz took Weckmann there to study with Praetorius, not Copenhagen, and to music, not performers, although later in the book he names string players and instrumental composers. Ilgner mentions English virginalists again in his preface to his edition of the sonatas, referring to both Hamburg and Copenhagen, in a phrase including lutenists and violinists in the case of the former city, and violinists in the latter. Weckmann was most profoundly influenced by his German teachers, and certainly there is no study concerning an English influence in Weckmann’s compositions. Roberts neither states that Weckmann composed relatively few works nor mentions the existence of a fragment for an eleventh sonata. In addition, she does not describe the source (D-Lr [Lüneburg, Ratsbücherei] KN207, Heft 14) or the music, gives no dates for the sonatas, makes few editorial remarks, and provides no performance practice suggestions. Perhaps the inattention to the foreword is endemic of the not-for-profit situation.

An edition of the ten complete sonatas is, however, badly needed and most welcome. There is the one mentioned above by Ilgner in Das Erbe deutscher Musik, Reihe 2: Landschaftsdenkmale der Musik. Schleswig-Holstein und Hansestädte published in 1939, but it is very difficult to acquire. Septenary’s editor, Roberts, does state that Ilgner’s edition was used as a point of reference for hers, although the barring is different—Ilgner modernizes everything, providing courtesy accidentals and some suggestions for ficta and figures. Music Rara produced an edition of the first sonata, edited by A. Lumsden in 1957, although without editorial commentary. Roberts provides little editorial interference in the edition, stating “[D]ecisions regarding additional accidentals and musica ficta are left to the discretion of the performer.” While early music practitioners will applaud this, as a teacher I think that some editorial suggestions would benefit students and would also avoid confusion. For example, I would prefer that the 3/1 section in Sonata 2 have a barline after every three whole notes, rather than follow the original. There are also times when courtesy accidentals would be helpful. For example, in Sonata 3, the many repeated c1-sharps in m. 29 of the bassoon part not only look odd, but the number of them (4) differs from the score (6). In m. 54 of the same piece, the third c2 in the cornettino part has no sharp, implying that it is natural despite the sharps on this pitch found within the phrase before and after it. Ilgner adds an editorial sharp here, and a courtesy natural for the fifth c2 that follows in the next phrase.

Major concerns about this edition, however, pertain primarily to the layout of the parts, the print, and its general look. My overall comment is that the size of the notes and especially the figures is too small. I normally play through continuo parts when doing a review, but the print size for notes and figures in the score is so tiny that this was impossible. The most difficult figure to see is the raised scale-degree 6 that is replicated here as a 6 with a caron above (v), which is almost invisible, and not explained in the editorial remarks. Apparently even youthful eyes have a hard time reading these parts. Sometimes a flat or sharp is placed too close to a note stem, note head or dot. The black notes appear very odd, often looking like horizontal figure eights that have been filled in with ink. The directives should be regularized and positioned in the same place for all parts. Stating the complete instrumentation for each piece in the upper right corner and slightly below the title in the parts, rather than centered directly under the title, is confusing. There is an awkward page turn in the basso continuo part that could have been avoided if the music for Sonata 1 had started on the recto, so that Sonata 2 could start on the verso, thereby avoiding this situation. Decisions should have been made so that parts could start on the verso or recto, as appropriate for that individual part. For example, although the Violin part has a two-measure rest to allow for a page turn in the second and third sonatas, this turn could have been avoided entirely if Sonata 2 had started on the verso. In addition, some single measures are spread out over an entire system, which is confusing and unnecessary. This happens several times: cornettino, Sonata 2, mm. 22–23, 34–36; violino, Sonata 1, m. 21; Sonata 2, mm. 22–23, 34–35; trombone, Sonata 2, m. 19–21, 26–28, 31–32; and bassoon, Sonata 2, mm. 19, 23, 26–28, 37–40. The cause of some of these issues could be the music program being used, especially the part-extraction feature. As a creator of many editions using a music program, I have learned that one needs to really proof and fiddle with the parts to get them to look right before presenting them to the public. As a performer, I much prefer to read off my old Musica Rara parts rather than those of this new edition, simply because I can see everything clearly.

Despite these issues, I must commend Septenary Editions for their initiative in publishing lesser-known composers and their music, and admire them for doing so as a not-for-profit company. I hope they will be able to make some adjustments to their music program to improve the readability of the figures and parts so that all can enjoy performing this wonderful music.

Charlotte A. Leonard

Six Fanfares by Georg-Friedrich Fuchs (1752-1821)

Georg-Friedrich Fuchs (1752-1821). Six Fanfares for 4 trumpets, 2 horns, trombone and timpani. Edited by Jean-Louis Couturier. Alta Musica Series SM 50221. Spaeth/Schmid Blechblasernoten, 2014.

Georg-Friedrich Fuchs was born in Mainz and displayed musical talent as a young boy and learned the clarinet, horn and bassoon.  He received instruction under Joseph Haydn and went on to serve as a military musician in several German regiments. In 1784 Fuchs moved to Paris where he gained a fair bit of notoriety and success as a composer and arranger of wind and harmoniemusik. When the Paris Conservatoire was established Fuchs received an appointment as a clarinet teacher.

Jean-Louis Couturier has here presented another terrific edition of brass music currently housed in the Bibliothéque Nationale de France (Call no.  Vm 271585). The music is in the cavalry band tradition, including the four-part trumpet choir typical of this genre. The range is modest going from low G in the fourth trumpet part (termed Toquet from the Italian word toccata), to g1 in the first trumpet part.  As is usual the timpani part supports the bottom of the trumpet choir. The addition of the two horns and trombone parts was, as Couturier explains, from the influence of David Buhl (1781-1860) who wrote works with similar instrumentation.  This instrumentation adds more color and harmonic motion than in the standard trumpet ensemble. The editor’s notes further explain that at the time of the Napoleonic wars cavalry music encompassed trumpets, horns, trombones and drums. Cavalry regiment music was typically scored for sixteen trumpets, six horns, three trombones, and kettle drums.  Couturier explains that these six short works are more involved than typical trumpet fanfares.  “The Fanfaren-Suite in six movements has more in common with an instrumental suite. The opening Intrada appears as a prelude or an overture, the dances are represented by a Minuet and a Waltz, the fast movement is realized in two Allegros and Ggue is replaced by the concluding Chasse in the corresponding 6/8 measures. “

We certainly owe Jean-Louis Couturier a great note of thanks for continuing to bring to light brass music long buried on the shelves of the Bibliothéque Nationale. This brass suite is a wonderful and very playable addition to our repertoire.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum

Dubois: Concerto in F for Horn


Charles-Ferdinand Dubois. Concerto de cor simple pour cor naturel (oucorchromatique) en fa et piano. Edited by Jean-Louis Couturier (Paris: Semprepiù Editions, 2014).

In June 2014 Semprepiù Editions published a new edition of Charles-Ferdinand Dubois’s Concerto de cor simple pour cor naturel (oucorchromatique) en fa et piano. This edition is edited by Jean-Louis Couturier and like the other Semprepiù Editions I have had the pleasure of seeing, this publication is very nicely packaged. It is based on a score published in 1889 by H.A. Simon Editeur of Paris which is currently in the collection of the BibliothèqueNationale de France (call number K.38505).  That original score is dedicated to Jean Pénable of the Concerts Society of the Paris Conservatoire.

Charles-Ferdinand Dubois lived from 1849 to 1899, so his experience with the horn in Paris would have placed him in the same position of such figures as Camille Saint-Saens and Paul Dukas. It would be right to view this piece, like Saint-Saens and Dukas’s works for the horn, as part of the transitional period in which Parisian horn players were still clinging to the natural horn even though much of Europe had adopted the valve horn. It makes perfect sense in this context, that Dubois would indicate that his piece is for either the natural horn or the chromatic horn. The piece is entirely playable on the natural horn, but there are some challenging passages that would be much easier to play on the valve horn.

Jean-Louis Couturier has taken the time carefully to set the score to ensure that it is easy to read. Accordingly, the horn part is laid out to provide logical and practical page turns. Even the piano score is made easier to read (at the beginning of the third movement, for example) by eliminating the rests in the horn part from the score to avoid unnecessary visual clutter and page turns. From a player’s perspective, I found the metronome markings to be very helpful since this is not a piece I had encountered previously. Also, the publisher’s website offers brief midi recordings that provide a nice basic example of the sound of this music.

The piece itself is approximately seven minutes long. The opening Allegro movement is interrupted by a brief Andante non troppo before returning to a quick Animato. The first movement is easily playable on natural horn, containing several arpeggio passages and melodic lines reminiscent of Beethoven or Mozart. The middle Andante movement is loaded with trills, a cadenza section, and some of the most challenging chromatic passages of the piece. The final 6/8 Allegro, comprised mainly of arpeggios in the tonic key, seems inspired by the calls of hunting horns. It is interrupted by an Appassianato section using long lyrical lines before finishing with a return to the allegro horn calls. The last movement and the piece are rounded out by a lively Poco animato that contains fast 6/8 figures with enough chromaticism to challenge even accomplished natural horn players.

-- Eric Brummit

New Editions of Stadlmayr and Volckmar


Johann Stadlmayr. "Canzon in a [a tre]." From Philomela coelestis. For two recorders (violin, cornettos) and Basso Continuo. Edited by Markus Eberhardt. Magdeburg: Edition Walhall, 2013. EW777.

Tobias Volckmar. "Schmücket das Fest mit Maien." Geistliches Konzert für Sopran, Trompete & Streicher. Edited by Klaus Hofmann. Magdeburg: Edition Walhall, 2014. EW814.

Tobias Volckmar. "Lobet den Herren, ihr seine Engel." Geistliches Konzert für Sopran, Trompete & Streicher. Edited by Klaus Hofmann. Magdeburg: Edition Walhall, 2014. EW818.

Founded in 1993, the Magdeburg-based Edition Walhall consistently proves to be a publishing firm dedicated to lesser-known repertoire from long-neglected composers. They offer reliable Urtext-style scores and parts devoid of editorial minutia, but with brief informative prefaces that leave the curious early-musician wanting to know more. Although a good portion of their catalogue is devoted to string and keyboard music, in recent years Edition Walhall has made significant headway in publishing relatively unfamiliar and unrecorded brass compositions. Three recent publications by two underrepresented composers, Johann Stadlmayr (ca. 1575–1648) and Tobias Volckmar (1678–1756), point to their increasing attention to historical brass repertoire.

Stadlmayr's Canzon in a, edited by Markus Eberhardt, originally appeared in a 1624 Munich collection entitled Philomela coelestis, compiled by the Jesuit musician George Victorinus (ca. 1570–1639). The canzona, scored for two unspecified treble voices and basso continuo, is one of the few untexted compositions in a collection comprised mostly of sacred vocal music. (Digital facsimiles of the part books appear on the Bayerische StaatsbibliothekWebsite.) By no means as technically challenging or inventive as works with similar scoring by, say, Fontana or Salomon Rossi, this canzon contributes only slightly to our understanding of Stadlmayr's reputation as an important Kapellmeister in Salzburg and Innsbruck. None other than Michael Praetorius praised him for being both an excellent performer and contrapuntist. (Despite the comment, it is difficult to ignore the clunky parallel fourths, with a 9th sounding against the bass, which appear twice during prominent cadential approaches. I doubt they were intended to be radically expressive statements.)

Not more than a few minutes in performing duration, Stadlmayr's instrumental composition would be served well by placing it alongside the more varied vocal works found in Victorinus's Philomela coelestis. To date, no complete modern edition of the entire collection exists, and after being treated to the snippet that the Stadlmayr canzona represents, performers might urge the editor and publisher to bring forth a complete version of Philomela coelestis. (The instrumental works from this source have already appeared in an 1976 edition from Hieber called Müncher Canzonen.)A complete modern publication would help garner greater interest in Stadlmayr and his little-discussed contemporaries -- names including Kurzinger, Krumper, Hartman, and Perckhouer. More should be heard from these sacred musicians, who, working in Catholic-oriented Germany and Austria, possessed a distinctly Venetian contrapuntal accent.

Editor Klaus Hofmann in another Walhall series, this one with the polyglottous header "Monarca della Tromba / Musik der Fürstenhöfe," presents two sacred arias for trumpet, soprano and string orchestra by Tobias Volckmar, who primarily worked in Danzig, Stettin, and Hirschberg (now Jelenia Góra, Poland) as a choirmaster and organist. On the whole Volckmar's approach to the trumpet displays neither the technical extremes nor the lyricism heard in music by contemporaries Telemann, Handel and J. S. Bach. Seldom venturing into the upper reaches of the clarino register nor daring into the frontiers of chromaticism, Volckmar's solo trumpet is firmly rooted upon idiomatic traits: standard martial motives, repeating triadic outlines, with the occasional rapid-fire diatonic passaggi in imitation or anticipation of the vocal line. Regardless of Volckmar's conservative compositional style, the trumpet does figure prominently in both arias. Volckmar inventively employs sonorous combinations, alternately pairing the trumpet with voice, then with violin 1, and even with viola in ever shifting contrapuntal textures.

The text for "Schmücket das Fest mit Maien" derives from Psalm 118:27 (A section) and Romans 5:5 (B section). A rough English translation—not provided in the edition—reads: "With boughs in hand, join the Feast / up to the horns of the altar. Because the love of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us." It is set as a da capo aria with the first section in common time and the contrasting B section turning to 6/8 in g minor. The second sacred aria, "Lobet den Herren, ihr seine Engel," derives from Psalm 103: 20-21 and reads: "Praise the Lord, you His angels that excel in strength, that follow His commandment in hearing the voice of His word. / Praise the Lord all ye His hosts, ye His servants that do His will." This aria, unlike the previous one, isa large-scale binary form, diverging from Italianate da capo traditions. Volckmar again changes meter between sections; the abrupt rhythmic and stylistic switch from 3/4 to common time mirrors thePsalm text’s two contrasting lines.

It should be noted that both arias are originally in Bb major, an unusual key for baroque trumpet repertoire. Although it would have been exceedingly helpful to have the option, transpositions into C are not provided. Evidently Volckmar intended these works for a valveless Bb trumpet, and there the key must stay! In a modern-day early-music performance, this means the trumpeter might be found making an awkward crook change while the string players pause for a serious retuning.

If Volckmar's two sacred arias seem tame when compared to better known trumpet and soprano works from the High Baroque, then they also exhibit something satisfying in their solid construction and clear purpose. This is functional music concerned only with the proclamation of devotional joy, and it does exactly what it sets out to do. Moreover, the arias provide a welcome respite to the standard war horses so easily recognized by today's audiences. Trumpet and soprano soloists should add to their repertoire these Volckmar pieces. They are worthy additions to any celebratory musical setting, sacred or secular. Their scoring alone makes them attractive, since they feature what is arguably the most emotionally impactful and allegorically powerful sonic pairing that anyone could have heard in the baroque age.

-- Alexander Bonus, Bard College