Gregorio Allegri

Arranged by Ralph Sauer

five trombones

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2016

score and parts


Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere was a long kept secret of the Vatican. Composed in the early 17th century for double choir, the piece was performed in morning services at the famous Sistine Chapel and achieved great popularity after being released for publication in the late 18th century. Ralph Sauer’s arrangement for five-piece trombone choir is accessible, practical, and a functional version of the piece.

Originally, antiphonal choirs were divided into two sopranos, alto, tenor, and bass voices for choir I and the traditional soprano, alto, tenor, and bass for choir II. This arrangement does not separate the choirs, but clearly distinguishes the sections in the score. The arranger simplifies the reading of the piece for practical purposes, which leads to discrepancies in notation from earlier versions. For instance, the vocal editions are in 4/2 meter with no meter change. However, this version is 4/4 meter and contains a 2/4 bar replacing an anacrusis phrasing. The form is laid out simply by use of repeat signs, double bars, caesuras and expression marks rather than through-written.

Surprisingly, the chosen key of A minor suits the trombone choir better than the original in G minor. The first part functions as obbligato, which is suitable for a featured soloist due to its exposure and difficulty – it repeatedly goes up to d2, distancing the top voice from the others and retaining the original altissimo effect. Otherwise the arrangement is suitable for high school and early college groups. Ralph Sauer’s arrangement is straightforward without subscribing to specific historical performance subtleties; nevertheless it is an effective and well-adapted version for trombones.


Reviewer: Lucas Borges
Review Published January 31, 2019