Johann Hentzschel
Canzon 1649:

Arranged by Nathan Siler

Eight trombones

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2012

Score and parts


Very little, if anything, is known about Johann Hentzschel’s life or career apart from the information stated on the publications title and dedication pages.  The scant information gleaned from the pages indicate he was an instructor of music in Thorn (Poland) during the mid-1600s. He composed this work for eight viola de gambas or trombones, originally published in Thorn in 1649. Even so, this composition is referenced in sources such as Trevor Herbert’s The Trombone, A Performer’s Guide to Seventeenth-Century Music, and the Historical Brass Society Newsletter, but only in passing and in a context that lists period trombone repertoire; references to or information about the composer is absent.  The present edition includes reproductions and translations of both the original title and dedication pages along with a brief biographical sketch. The biographical notes are about Sir Georg Neumark, the individual to whom the composition was dedicated, not the composer.

The music itself is what one might expect from a composition titled Canzon.  The composition is comparable to the familiar canzonas of Gabrieli but its contrapuntal texture is less intricate, and therefore presents fewer technical challenges. The composition is a combination of loosely related sections.  The opening section is written in simple-quadruple meter, an imitative motive with contrapuntal line for each of the eight parts. This section is the more problematic to prepare due to its fairly close voicings in between lower parts. A second section pairs imitative entrances among the ensemble until a third section finally separates the ensemble into two antiphonal groups of four trombones. A fourth section continues the antiphonal dialogue, now in single-triple meter, until the return of the original motive and simple meter for the final several measures.

Range and tessitura of parts are typical for experienced performers. First and fifth trombone parts are both in tenor clef throughout with the highest pitch being a1.  Fourth and eighth parts are both labeled bass trombone. Its players need to be comfortable in the trigger range down to pedal BB-flat. Score and parts are clear and easy to read. This is an enjoyable work. It’s availability will result in more performances and greater familiarity with early music for our instrument.

Reviewer: Kevin Chiarizzio
Review Published January 31, 2019