Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honneger, Joseph Canteloube
Three French Vocalises:

Arranged by Ralph Sauer

Tuba or bass trombone and piano

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2015

Score and solo part


Collections of vocalises by Concone, Bordogni, Panofka, and Marchesi are fairly familiar material to instrumentalists, likely essential pedagogical components for both vocalists and instrumentalists. Perhaps a less familiar source for vocalises is the Répertoire Moderne de Vocalises-Études which is essentially the result of one vocal teacher’s efforts, Amédée-Landély Hettich. Hettich was a professor of voice at the Paris Conservatory between the years 1909-1927 who made a personal goal “to raise the vocalise … from a dull exercise to a work of art in its own right.” (Harry White, 23 Vocalises-Etudes, CD booklet, p.5). He began to commission composers as early as 1907; the final fruit of the effort was published posthumously in 1938.  The product is a collection of over 150 vocalises from distinguished composers and academics of the period. Contributors tended to be French at the beginning but representatives from other nationalities were eventually included. Prominent contributors to the collection include Fauré, Ravel, Debussy, Honegger, Messiaen, D’Indy, Dukas, Rachmaninoff, Copland, Villa-Lobos, Nielsen, Dupré, Dupuis, Busser, and Bachelet. The three works in Ralph Sauer’s arrangement originate in this Répertoire Moderne.

Each of the Three French Vocalises are rhythmically interesting, melodically satisfying, and a pleasure to play. The quality of this material greatly contributes to the success of the arrangement. The individual works are a brief 1.5 - 2 minutes in duration, varied in tempo and style, appropriate for performance as either individual movements or together as a suite. The tessitura for the bass trombone is comfortable as most pitches are positioned comfortably within the staff with occasional jaunts into the trigger range. Its technical challenges are limited: Milhaud’s vocalise utilizes 5/8 meter, Honegger’s incorporates a few quicker passages with chromatic alterations, and Canteloube’s is in the style of a bourré which is the most technically challenging of the three. It includes an awkward trill on a-flat, but no other special techniques are encountered. Cherry Classics also offers an edition for tenor trombone.

Reviewer: Kevin Chiarizzio
Review Published January 31, 2019