Sergei Rachmaninoff
Fantasy Piece: Op.3, No.3

Arranged by Ralph Sauer

Tuba (bass trombone) and piano

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2017

Score and solo part


The present work is yet another item in the long series of low brass arrangements from the pen of Ralph Sauer, retired Principal Trombone of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This piece is of particular interest, being neither long nor technically difficult – much of Rachmaninoff’s music is much more technically challenging and substantial. It is set for either bass trombone or tuba with piano accompaniment – the original is for piano solo and is in the same key of E major. It is the third in a series of shorter pieces which Rachmaninoff entitled Morceaux de Fantaisie, Opus 3. The arrangement is from the first version of the Mélodie Op.3 No.3 of 1892.

The melodic material in the original lies principally in the left hand: the arrangement takes that material down an octave to suit the bass instrument’s most comfortable range. The low brass part is essentially a smooth melody in a calm, Romantic style, though it does become somewhat agitated and energetic just after the midpoint of the piece. The principal challenge to the brass player is making a suitable sound and style to fit the music, although there are a few traps in the melodic line, such as the passage in measures 13-14, where a repeated middle e1 is respelled as f-flat¹ to continue down chromatically.

This is a beautiful, small work; the Mr. Sauer’s arrangement does it justice. It is quite suitable for an encore on a recital or solo for a church service. I recommend it highly.

Reviewer: Philip Brink
Review Published June 14, 2019