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Modern Guitar

Author(s): Mary Criswick

Source: The Musical Times, Vol. 125, No. 1702 (Dec., 1984), p. 711
Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.
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Accessed: 09/07/2009 07:10
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ber, who edits the cello part and has recorded

it; the reduction of the economical but telling
score is Holst's own. The rhapsodicflights of
this distinguishedmusic are nicely controlled,
and Holst's fastidious judgmentwill ensure a
ready welcome for the piece. Kurt Weill was
aboutto sit at the feet of Busoni when he wrote
his cello sonata of 1920 (EuropeanAmerican/
Universal,?8). Still in his prenticeyears,he contrived a workof considerableoriginality.From
the glum ostinato of the start, it alreadyhas a
whiff of that acrid quality typical of his later
music. After the dogged melodies and spare
writing of the first movement,the 7/4 Andante
espressivoluxuriatesmore, andthe grotesqueries
of the finaleunderpinsomebold flightsof fancy.
Gerhard Schedl's op.l (Doblinger/Universal,
?3.60) is a sonata for unaccompaniedcello in
which a latterdayPierrotlooks at the moon and
finds muchto entertainhim aswell as to be cross
about.Cellisticresourcesareexploitedto the full,
and only an accomplishedplayer need attempt
the piece, which is in four linked and epigrammatic sections sharingmuch melodic material.

Modern guitar
Withone exception,the musicin this reviewdoes
not use advancedmusicallanguage,nor aleatory
passages. Trilogyby Frederic Hand (Presser/
Universal, ?3.60) is a three-movementsonatalike work which would never leave the middle
of the road were it not for some unexpected
twists, for instancewhere a 12/8 bar is divided
4 + 3 + 3 + 2 in the last movement.Otherwisethe
musicis on the sweetsidebut nonethelessattractive. AlexanderBellow's Talesof theAlhambra
(Kerby/ Elkin, ?2.80) is also good, all-purpose
music. Taken as a whole it is suitable concert
material;played singly each movement would
be useful for students. The music, prefacedby
to do with its more famouseponymouswork thereis hardlya tremoloin sight - but describes
the beautyof the Alhambrain timesof peaceand
war. Another very descriptive composition is
Suite by OwenMiddleton(Belwin,?2.25), a set
of 'mood pieces' as the editor, Ronald Purcell,
writes in the preface.Eachmovement,whether
a lullaby or a dance, is most evocative, and the
Virginia Reel would surely bring some muchneeded smiles to the audience at the close of a
SergioChiereghin'sPassacaglia(Berben/Fentone, ?2.95) is built on a four-barostinatofrom
the 'scuolavenetade 1600' which the composer
uses to creategreattension, despite (or because
of) retainingthe simple theme unaltereduntil
the end. Another rathertense piece is Jindrich
Feld's BarbaricDance(Schirmer,?2.90) which,
with its insistence on harmonies in 4ths and
brokenrhythms,'is full of restless energy until
the finalpassagein harmonics(andherethe nota-

tion is most confusing without an explanatory

preface;what is the differencebetweenlozengeshapednotesandordinaryroundoneswith a little
circle above?).
In the pastfew yearsthe smallbut steadytrickle
of musiciansfromEasternEuropehasmeantthat
their repertoryhas been opened up to us in the
West. The publisher whose editions reach us
most steadily is Panton in Prague via Universal. Their most recent arrival,although copyrighted 1981, is StepanUrban's Compositions
for Guitar (95p - despite importation, their
publicationsundercutours). Without recourse
to avant-garde
language,norto undueuse of percussiveeffects,Urbanneverthelessgivesus something freshandnew, andI particularlylikedthe
'Dancefora Squirrel'with its threesimple,playful movements.Just as easy on the ear are the
Petites pieces intimes by Francis Kleynjans
(Billaudot/United,?2.35), a gifted and personable young composer/performer.The six short
pieces aremostly tinged with a slight but unobtrusiveSouthAmericanflavour,makingcharming miniaturessuitable for encores.
The exception mentioned at the start of this
review is William Hellermann's Distances/
Embraces(Presser/Universal,$4), an aleatory
workin which the interpreter,while left a very
free hand, is given manyguidelinesas to mood,
e.g. 'gracefully','rustling','mysteriously','musingly'andso on. Much use is madeof percussive
and bottleneck effects, and the player is also
requiredto whistle andhum into the soundhole.
Aftera climaxoffrenziedactivitythe workends
as it began,with sustainedharmonicsalternating
with crossed strings.


Modern horn
From a mixed batch of new pieces for horn one
that immediately attractsthe attention is Sea
Eagleforsoloby PeterMaxwellDavies(Chester,
?2.99). It moves in floating melodic lines with
a fairsprinklingof gracenotes,irregularrhythms
and full compass.The fast runs and changesof
registerin the first and last movementsareparticularly difficult. No less demandingbut not
so excitingis Motum2 for hornby AlainVoirpy
(Lemoine/United,?3.80). Betweenslow-moving
passageswhich explore changes in tone-colour
there are contrasting passages of short fast
flourishes.Withthe significantadditionof a tamtam Le signe du lion by Gilles Tremblay
(Salabert/United,?3.85) is muchmoreexplosive
in spiritwith some excitinginteractionbetween
the instruments.
Two pieces for four hornsdeservebriefmention: the straightforwardHornPostilleop.46 by
Kurt Schwertsik(Boosey, playing score ?1.50)
and Three Intermezzosop.76 no.1 by Helmut
Eder (Doblinger/Universal, score and parts
?7.15). Three of Schwertsik'sfour pieces are
basedon march-likerhythms,while in the slow
one a sinuous bass melody is accompaniedby

more ambitious and interesting, but not too

For horn and piano, the Balladeby Friedrich
Zehm (Schlott,?2.85) is an impressivepiece in
the Romantic tradition, much of it bold and
aggressive,with strongdiscordantharmoniesand
a greatdealof workforboth players.A Sonatina
for horn and piano by JaroslavKofroii, dating
from 1952, is an attractiveneo-classicalpiece of
no greatdifficultiesbut somemelodicattraction.
It comes from Panton/Universalat ?2.25.

As a former orchestral trumpeter Malcolm
Arnold can be relied upon to produce an idiomatic work for the instrument.That his short
Trumpet Concerto of 1982 (Faber, reduction
?3.95) is a splendid exercisefor the soloist will
be no surprise, though some of the orchestral
harmoniesaresurprisinglystaticandthe invention a little thin. A much moresubstantialpiece
is the Sonataeroicaof 1960fortrumpetandpiano
by JiriValek(Panton/Universal,?6.65). Its harddriving neo-classical rhythms and sonorous
extendedtonal harmoniesall add up to a strong
and powerful work. The alternative part for
clarinet (included with the trumpet version)
would alsoworkwell. The sheerelan of Valek's
sonata is not found in the more careful and
methodicalwritingofthe Sonatafortrumpetand
organby JosefDoppelbauer(Doblinger/Universal, ?6.20). Yet the working of the materialis
splendid with well-graded climaxes and an
imaginativefinal fugue.
In a totally different style, James Erber's
for trumpetandpiano(Ricordi,?9)
presentssome fearsomemetricaldifficulties in
its 149bars,despitea fairlyconstantquaverbeat.
The composer refersto 'multiple processesof
decay and proliferation'in the piece that were
suggestedby a 17th-centuryengraving(reproducedin the score)anda sonnetby Michelangelo.
This takesthe formof verycomplexsubdivision
of quavers,oftentotallydifferentin the two parts,
and, in the more extremecases, rhythmic patterns that cut across the quaver divisions. All
this complexity,however,does not hide the fact
that this is one of the most challenging (to
listeners and performers)and powerful pieces
for the medium to appearfor a very long time.

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