Trio Sonata, op. 3, no. 2, by Arcangelo Corelli, CM 1782, 2011, $12.
Trio Sonata, op. 2, no. 1, by Arcangelo Corelli, CM 1788, 2011, $12.
Divertimento I from Five Divertimenti for Three Basset Horns, K. 439b by W. A. Mozart. CM 1787, 2011, $14.
Divertimento III from Five Divertimenti for Three Basset Horns, K. 439b, by W. A. Mozart. CM 1778, 2011, $15.00.
Allegro from Divertimento for Violin, Viola, and Cello, K. 563, by W. A. Mozart. CM 1783, 2011, $12.
The repertoire for brass trio (usually trumpet, horn, and trombone) has a few good original works (Poulenc, Sanders, and Marek come to mind immediately), but this combination also has a growing collection of arrangements. Fortunately, some style periods lend themselves to good transcriptions, and the Baroque is certainly a period that provides a wealth of sonatas and others types to draw on. James Boldin, horn teacher at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, has found some nice works from the Baroque and Classical periods that, taken together, provide a balanced diet for both younger and more experienced players.
Corelli was one of the greatest performers and composers of trio sonatas, and the two chosen by Boldin, from 1689 (op. 3) and 1685 (op. 2), are great examples of Baroque style in this genre. Both have been transposed to F from the original key of D, which reduces the number of octave adjustments needed, and a nice collection of stylish ornaments have been added. Originally, these pieces would also have included a chording instrument to fill out the continuo role, and sometimes it is missed--not here, though. Both pieces are also a little easier technically than some others of this type, so university-level students (and above) will have a satisfying time with them. I did miss the original movement titles for the op. 2, which I think would give a little more insight into the desired styles, even with the metronome markings included; for example, to know the latter two are a Corrente and a Gavotte is more helpful than two Allegros. Also, the Largo second movement is actually Allegro in the original-an easy fix by Cimarron in future printings.
The three Mozart arrangements are equally interesting in different ways. The two taken from K. 439b are from five sets of pieces for three basset horns, supposedly inspired by his friend clarinetist Anton Stadler, and which Mozart himself apparently transcribed for several additional combinations (see KV. Anh 229 for two clarinets and bassoon). There remains some controversy regarding the authenticity of the pieces because the original version of this set is as elusive as substantive references to it, but either way they are allegedly from the late 1780s. The pieces as a whole comprise 25 separate movements, five for each divertimento, all in B[flat] major, though presented here in concert E[flat]--good choice! Divertimenti are supposed to have a lighter character, and these pieces would be great for background music or a lighter contribution to a concert program. The overall horn range is E[flat]-g" in I and B[flat]-a[flat]" in III, with trumpet parts topping out at f" and g" respectively, and trombone parts covering E[flat]-e[flat]' and E[flat]-d[flat]'. As a result, these charming pieces are very playable and enjoyable, with good melodies and mildly interesting supporting parts.
The first movement from K. 563, originally in E[flat], transposed here to concert a[flat], is the most mature work of the three by Mozart presented here and consequently the most challenging musically and technically for the brass trio. And, since it is Mozart, it is worth the work. This movement is much more chromatic than the basset horn pieces above, and the necessary adjustments for range, balance, and things like double-stops are handled deftly. This edition is definitely for advanced players, with the trumpet peaking at bb", the horn responsible for c-a" and the trombone covering F-g'.
In the end, all five pieces chosen for arrangement by James Boldin are excellent for different reasons, whether for technical demands or musical challenges, and are highly recommended for both school and professional brass chamber libraries.
Jeffrey Snedeker, Editor
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|Publication:||The Horn Call|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2012|
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