Ralph Sauer
Practice with Bach Volume 3:: Thirty-eight études based upon the Six French Suites (BWV 812–817)
Alto trombone

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2018

Etude book. 33 pages.


This is Ralph Sauer’s third volume in his innovative series entitled Practice with Bach. While the first volume focused on preludes from the Well-Tempered Clavier and the second on themes from the Six Partitas, volume three creates a set of 38 etudes based on themes from the Six French Suites. While this reviewed version is written for alto trombone, Sauer has also written versions of this series for tenor trombone, bass trombone, euphonium, and tuba. Each of the versions have been uniquely adapted for these individual instruments.

Originating from keyboard music, these etudes can initially appear somewhat daunting. They often span a wide range with an abundance of large interval leaps. At times the rhythms are nearly continuous without many obvious places for breaths. Sauer has carefully crafted each of these etudes to fall right within the ideal range of the alto trombone—between c and f². As one should expect, they are written exclusively in alto clef. As a result, these etudes may also serve well the tenor trombonist working on upper register or alto clef reading skills.

The entire volume is extremely well edited both for legibility and with various suggestions for interpretation. Ralph Sauer’s Practice with Bach series presents alto and tenor trombonists with a musically rewarding supplement to many traditional etude books and will surely become a staple in the pedagogy of these instruments.

Reviewer: Greg Strohman
Review Published April 22, 2020