Review


Johann Sebastian Bach
Unaccompanied Suites: BWV 1007-1012

Arranged by Ralph Sauer

Alto trombone

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2015
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com

Performing scores

Genre: SOLO MATERIALS

Suite I is given in F major, original key G; Suite II in F minor, original key D minor; Suite III in B-flat major, original key C major; and Suite VI in F major, original key  D major. Suites IV and V are kept in their original keys of E-flat major and C minor, respectively. There are 46 pages of score, prefaced by one page of interpretive notes.

 

40 years ago, when I began playing alto trombone, and needed some challenging study material, I turned to Bach. I copied out alto trombone parts from some of the cantatas, and these served me well at that time. Ralph Sauer’s expert transcriptions of the ’Cello Suites now more than meet a long-standing need for a comprehensive set of advanced study material that will be both challenging and inspirational; and in my opinion this volume should be essential study for any serious student of the alto trombone. Amongst the challenges are fluency in execution of 16ths and many large intervals, some over two octaves, and above all to maintain beauty of tone and a singing line in some very demanding technical passages. Alto clef is used throughout. Much of the tessitura lies within the staff but ranges extend well above and below. The first selection, the Prelude from Suite 1, comprises 32 measures in which an almost unbroken flow of 16th notes extend over a progressively widening range from f to a1 in the first measure to B-flat-f2 overall. It also includes an interval of a 10th going up to the much feared high e2. The second selection, the Allemande from Suite 1 includes in a group of 16ths, an interval of a 15th from C-b-flat1. Difficulties such as these occur throughout the set. Overall range spans A-g2; these extremes occur only once. Production is exemplary. To view on iPad, the publisher recommends the Score iPad Music Reader app. If you are my age and use progressive lenses, increase the font to 150% and the page to a size larger than A4.

Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published January 4, 2019