So, why is your "Music Reviews" editor now speaking when he has just said he should be quiet? I--to drop the third-person-singular ruse of objectivity--wanted to communicate information about how this column works and, of greater interest to readers, provide an opportunity to expose them to material on my shelf that has not found its evaluator. Without going into the dull, bureaucratic details, it should be stated that in spite of my privilege of choosing what scores I want to review and the reviewers for them, the reviews that actually appear in print are subject to a fair number of random circumstances. The random factors include: the publisher supplying a copy for review, the identification of an appropriate reviewer, the reviewer agreeing to review, and finally, the submission by the reviewer of the review in a publishable form in something close to the agreed upon schedule. The review editor depends on the reviewer's honesty, integrity, and promptness just as the reader depends on that of the editor.
Stepping away from the role of review editor for this particular issue--for which, candidly, the honesty and integrity of some of the chosen reviewers did not rise to expectations--your "Music Reviews" editor will take the opportunity to comment on some items on his shelf that for various reasons did not find their way into the hands of a reviewer, but on which he does feel competent and able to comment. Notes has an important role as one of the few remaining music periodicals to continue to review a significant number of books and scores in a timely fashion. That role needs to be sustained.
WORKS BY SAMUEL BARBER
Samuel Barber. Complete Choral Music. Revised Edition. New York: G. Schirmer; Milwaukee, WI: Dist. by Hal Leonard Corp., 2011. [About this edition, p. 4; historical notes, p. 5-8; score, p. 10-295. ISBN 978-1-4234-7582-8; pub. nos. ED 4467 (Schirmer), HL50334620 (Hal Leonard). $24.95.]
Samuel Barber. Horizon. Full score. First Edition. Edited by David Flachs. New York: G. Schirmer; Milwaukee, WI: Dist. by Hal Leonard Corp., 2010. [Portrait, 1 p.; preface & instrumentation, 1 p.; score, p. 2-10. ISBN 978-1-4234-9980-0; pub. nos. ED 4463 (Schirmer), HL50490328 (Hal Leonard). $12.99.]
Samuel Barber. Commemorative March: Composed for Susie's (my sister's) Wedding in my New York Apartment. For violin, violoncello, and piano. Edited by David Flachs. New York: G. Schirmer; Milwaukee, WI: Dist. by Hal Leonard Corp., 2010. [Notes on the edition. 1 p.; score, p. 4-5, and 2 parts, 1 p. ea.; facsimile of manuscript score and parts, p. 7-11. ISBN 978-1-6177-4236-7; pub. nos. ED 4463 (Schirmer), HL50490374 (Hal Leonard). $12.95.]
The Samuel Barber centenary in 2010 brought forth editions, recordings, and some performances of this composer whose fortunes have risen and fallen among cognoscenti; disdained by some, he is popular with many who prefer their music more tonal than otherwise. As part of the Barber hundredth birthday celebration many libraries were provided free of charge with copies of an eight-disc set of works by Barber, many recorded by the composer or their first interpreters: Historical Recordings 1935-1960 (West Hill Radio Archives WHRA-6039 ). It is a valuable compilation of previously released recordings (many no longer available) as well as some unreleased performances, most made with the composer's involvement as either performer or judge. Obviously the Adagio for Strings will keep Samuel Barber's name alive for some time, and the Hermit Songs, the Excursions for piano, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and a few other works receive a healthy number of performances and recordings to ensure a broader and longer legacy.
The Complete Choral Musk contains all of Barber's works in this medium, including some arrangements he made of his own music (e.g., "The Monk and His Cat" from the Hermit Songs) and of others (an Ave Maria by Josquin des Prez). Two large works are not included here: The Lovers, for baritone, chorus, and orchestra, op. 43 (1971); and The Prayers of Kierkegaard, for soprano, chorus, and orchestra, op. 30 (1954). Two works are published here for the first time: Twelve Rounds (1927) and Motetto on Words from the Book of job (1930); after all, these were written when the composer was but seventeen and twenty years old, respectively. The cover announces this to he a "Revised Edition" of the 1979 publication of the same title, which contained works "written and published up to 1969." All in all the revised edition includes only two new original works (along with the two early works), together with a few extra alternate arrangements of previously arranged pieces. A section of "Historical Notes" provides brief information on publication, performances, texts set, and a few words about composition, arrangements, and adaptations. Both editions are actually compilations of reproductions of the original separate issues in octavo format, and there is no indication of any editing having taken place, nor is any editor or the author of the "Historical Notes" identified. Perhaps no editing was needed; was all clear and correct in the original publications? The 1979 volume provided separate parts for the timpani in A Stopwatch and an Ordinance Map, for male voices and timpani (1940); and the brass instruments in the Easter Chorale, for chorus, brass, timpani, and organ ad lib. (1964). In this revised edition the parts are bound into the main volume with a note (and an unperforated dotted line) explaining how the "Parts may be carefully cut from hook." It is good to have these works in one volume for study, reference, or listening, but it is a bit heavy for a singer to hold in performance. Libraries may want to remove the parts from the volume before binding, and they will certainly want to do so before putting it on the shelf for circulation.
The brief preface to the short orchestral work, Horizon, claims this to be one of the few works for orchestra by Barber unpublished in his lifetime, although it was copyrighted in 1945. Perhaps Bather refrained from publishing it due to the special occasion for which it was written: a radio broadcast sponsored by the United States Office of War Information. The opening bars, which in turn generate much of the material for this eleven-page work, were reborn in the woodwind quintet, Summer Music (1956), where the composer seems to have made better use of them.
Barber wrote the Commemorative March, as We extended title explains, for the wedding of his sister on 4 May 1940 in the New York apartment the composer shared with his partner Gian Carlo Menotti. A piano trio of thirty-nine bars, whatever significance this work may have had for the composer and the happy couple is a bit lost on me. It is difficult to conceive that Barber himself would have published it, as indeed he did not. Large libraries will want Horizon because the original context of its composition and performance are interesting (a portrait of the handsome composer in his army uniform serves as a frontispiece) and its relation to Summer Music, one of Barber's most popular works. It. is difficult to know what even the most dedicated kin will make of the Commemorative March, however; but some large libraries may want a copy for the sake of having every note the composer wrote during his career.
RAVEL'S GASPARD DE LA NUIT
Maurice Ravel. Gaspard de la nuit: 3 poemes pour piano apres Aloysius Bertrand. Nach der Quellen herausgegeben von Michael Kube. Vorwort von Theo Hirsbrunner. Fingersatze and Hinweise zur Interpretation von Peter Roggenkamp. Vienna: Wiener Urtext Edition, 2011. [Foreword, pref., notes on interpretation in Ger., Eng., Fre., p. v-xix; facsimile, 1 p.; score, p. 2-42; glossary, p. 43; crit. notes in Ger., Eng., p. 44-51. ISBN 385055659X, ISBN-13/EAN 9783850556590, ISMN 9790500572916; pub. no. UT 50261. $21.95.]
Maurice Ravel. Gaspard de la nuit. Herausgegeben von Peter Jon. (Urtext.) Munich: G. Henle, 2010. [Preface in Ger., Eng., Fre., p. iv-viii; score, p. 1-40; commentary in Ger., Eng., p. 42-47; trans. of expression and tempo marks, 1 p. ISBN-13 9790201808437; pub. no. HN 843. $24.95.]
Pianists--those with the technique to handle this work--should take advantage of the availability of not one but two recent critical editions of one of Ravel's major works for piano. Although the original publication (Durand, 1909), now in the public domain, has been reprinted many times and is available for download widely on the Internet, the density of the critical notes in both the Henle and Wiener Urtext editions should warn performers of the many problems in this complex work (in complex notation), which unfortunately were quite common in Durand publications, even in much less complex works. Several other critical or urtext editions have also appeared over the years, the most prominent by the justifiably notable Ravel scholar Roger Nichols (Peters Edition, ED 7378 [19911), and another by Gaby Casadesus (Schirmer's Library of Musical Classics, vol. 1964 [19901), the pianist-wife of Robert Casadesus, friends of the composer and performers of his music during his lifetime. All of these editions provide the texts of the three poems that inspired the three movements of the work. Schirmer's Casadesus edition has a very brief introduction (by Casadesus?) and no critical notes, but five footnotes in the score provide some specific performance guidelines and, according to the title page, editorial fingering.
The Peters and Schirmer editions are significant because their editors are as known to the scholarly community as they might well be to knowledgeable pianists with the confident technique to be interested in performing this difficult work. Among the contributors to these four critical editions, however, only Gaby Casadesus and Peter Roggenkamp seem to actually be pianists: Gaby was well known in her clay as a performer in her own right, as well as in duo with her husband Robert; Peter Roggenkamp has released several recordings of contemporary piano music (although not as far as I can find Gaspard de la null) on various compact-disc labels. For the Wiener Urtext publication Roggenkamp supplied the "Fingerings and Notes on Interpretation." The actual editing of the music from the sources has been left for the most pan to musicologists and in-house editors rather than performers. I mean nothing derogatory at all by using the words "in-house editors." Students and teachers hold both Henle and Wiener Urtext publications in high regard, while the abundant experience in making editorial decisions these unsung heroes have acquired over the years, as well as the knowledge of the music under their jurisdiction that these editions customarily display, have earned their work a place in the musical literature and (invisibly) in the concert ball. In sum, we have here four excellent but varied takes on one of the major works for piano solo from the twentieth century--a plethora of riches. Performers specializing in Ravel and most libraries of any size would do well to own or consult all of these.
A hit of trivia to close: The music in the two newer editions under review are laid out in the same way: each page throughout both publications have the same bars of music distributed on the page exactly alike. Roger Nichols's Peter's edition exactly matches the layout in the original Durand publication, while the layout in the Schirmer edition is unique among these four. To my eye--a sub-par pianist who might play this work at quarter speed on a good day--the Wiener Urtext is easiest to read, and provides enough white space for adding notes and fingerings. The Henle, because the notes and staves are printed larger, seems to me a bit crowded and somewhat less easy to read.
FAURE'S PIANO QUARTETS
Gabriel Faure. Premier quatuor pour piano, violon, alto, et violoncelle en ut mineur, op. 15. Deuxieme quatuor pour piano, violon, alto, et violoncelle en sol mineur, op 45. Edites par Denis Herlin. (Oeuvres completes, ser. V, vol. 2.) (Musica gallica.) Kassel: Barenreiter, 2010. [Preface in Fre., Eng., Ger., p. vii-x; intro. in Fre., Eng., Ger., p. xi-xlvii; facsims., p. xlix-lvii; score, p. 3-177; abbrevs., p. 180; crit. report in Fre., Eng., p. 181-221; appendix, p. 222. ISMN 979-0-006-54451-6; pub. no. BA 9462. [euro]315.]
Collected-works volumes are now selling [hr increasingly higher prices relative to the price of bread due at least in part to the declining market for such publications. And the increasing prices are in turn decreasing the number of libraries and individuals who would once have purchased these editions as a matter of course. Students at small colleges, or local musicians taking advantage of their medium-sized public library would have at one time had easy access to the Faure Oeuvres completes, but shrinking collections budgets in libraries everywhere has limited students' and performers' access to important repertoire in reliable and accurate editions. The good news is that many publishers, including Barenreiter, are issuing associated practical editions of scores and parts to be used for performance. These practical editions provide the critical edition of the score as it appears in the volume of the Oeuvres completes, Gesamtausgabe, or Collected Works, usually with a brief introduction and the essential critical notes. Musicians can now mark up the cheaper performing edition for their performance or analysis rather than the expensive collected-works volumes. This certainly makes librarians happy.
The two piano quartets by Gabriel Faure published in series 5, volume 2, in the much needed Oeuvres completes have been issued in such separate editions. (So that the bibliographical headnote to this brief review does not exceed the length of the review itself, 1 did not include there the complete information on these editions, but in short: Piano Quartet op. 15, score and parts, BA 7903, [euro]39.95; and Piano Quartet op. 45, score and parts, BA 7904, [euro]39.95.) Similar to the editions of Ravel as mentioned above, Faure's compositions were not well treated by their original publishers. Errors in first and early editions--prolifically reprinted, reproduced, and now digitized and online--are abundant. Further, poor quality paper used by many publishers, but particularly French ones, throughout the twentieth century ensured that a copy of, for example, Debussy's Preludes purchased midcentury and used for practice and performance became unusable by the 1980s. Pristine copies of first editions of these works from the turn of the century (if the often scant publication information enables a scholar to ascertain which issue is indeed the first edition), are quite rare. Scores, after all, should he made to he used, but not necessarily used up. Accurate editions and excellent production values make these separate publications invaluable. They should last awhile in conservatories and libraries with active instrumentalists, and are well formatted for practical use.
These two quartets nicely represent the evolution of Faure's style over his life from the more melodic and tonal to an increasingly chromatic and abstract manner with less emphasis on melody. The First Piano Quartet is squarely in the earlier manner, the Second Quartet a step in Faure's journey toward the latter, epitomized by his last completed work, the String Quartet, op. 121. Due to this stylistic evolution, early works of Faure are more commonly performed than the more abstract later ones, and this is true of these two piano quartets. Anyone unfamiliar with these works will be surprised by the muscular first movement of the First Quartet and, in both quartets, the "French" scherzos, as movements of the style and nature found here are sometimes called. These are not easy works, and both require a high degree of technique to perform well. The piano parts display Faure's rather queer and distinctive writing for the piano, the result of the ambidexterity that allowed the composer at least to handle the truly balanced and equal right-and left-hand parts he liked to write. It is hoped that these new, clear editions will provide some impetus for more students to explore these works.
University of California, Los Angeles
EDITED BY DAVID GILBERT