Review


Arnold Schonberg
Six Little Pieces Op.19: arranged for tuba (or bass trombone) and piano

N.p., ,
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2014

Genre: SOLO MATERIALS

Ralph Sauer has added to his extensive collection of arrangements for Cherry Classics with a version of Arnold Schoenberg’s Six Little Piano Pieces, Op.19. While similar to many of his other arrangements of solo piano music, i.e. Chaminade’s Six Romances Without Words, Op.76, Beach’s Eskimos, Op.64, etc., this work is unique as one of the few, if not the only, atonal solos for tuba/bass trombone and piano.

Originally published in 1913, Schoenberg composed the first five little pieces on February 19th, 1911.  He added the final movement on June 17th of the same year after hearing about the death of Gustav Mahler. The pieces are quite short, ranging from 9 to 17 measures, yet filled with extremes of dynamics and articulation. The melodic range, B-flat to g-sharp1, should not be problematic while there are rhythmically complex passages that will take some effort to master. The difficulty with this piece lies in its interpretation, as low brass players rarely have the opportunity to perform solo music similar to this. With that in mind, Mr. Sauer integrates helpful information within the solo part including piano cues in four of the movements and expressive markings that are translated into English.

This piece will almost certainly be something unique on a recital program and, pedagogically, it makes an excellent introduction to atonal music for low brass musicians.  It is suggested that any serious study of the work include listening to multiple recordings of the original version for solo piano. Are you interested in the piece but don't play the tuba or bass trombone? The arrangement is also available for tenor trombone or euphonium.

Reviewer: Eric High
Review Published January 31, 2019