Review


Ernst Sachse
Concertino for Bass Trombone (Tuba) and Piano:

Arranged by Charles Vernon, edited by Erik Saras

Bass trombone and piano

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2021
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com

Score and solo part.

Genre: SOLO MATERIALS

One might be hard pressed to find a person who would argue that Ernst Sachse’s Concertino is one of the great works of musical or even trombone history. It is a utilitarian, moderately interesting piece written by a trumpet-playing composer who wrote a Concertino in E-flat for trumpet, and who was obscure enough that we do not know with certainty when he lived; the consensus is that he was born around 1813 and died around 1870. His trombone Concertino—which appears from time to time as a required solo on auditions for some European and Asian orchestras but is less popular in the United States—has appeared in a host of editions since the early one published by Philipp & Sohn (Berlin, 1886). Many modern editions have come in the footsteps of Carl Gerlach’s 1896 edition (C.F. Schmidt, Heilbronn) and today, we have a version for alto trombone, a host of editions for tenor trombone, one for contrabass trombone, and also several for bass trombone by Armin Bachmann, Martin Göss, Bertrand Moren, John Mortimer, Denson Paul Pollard, and others.
Here we have an edition for bass trombone or tuba that lowers Concertino nearly an octave from its original B-flat major to C major. This is significantly lower than the many other modern editions for bass trombone that lower the Concertino a fourth to F major, a key that keeps a player in the core register of the instrument, from FF to f1. This edition, on the other hand, requires one to play from CC to c1, a task that presents real challenges to bass trombonists if not so much for tuba players. That said, Concertino in this key works quite nicely on contrabass trombone.
This new version makes several changes from Gerlach’s edition (there is no Urtext based on Sachse’s original manuscript)—usually in the form of adding marcato indications and eschewing staccato, increasing dynamic markings to louder volumes, and adding slurs—but if you are determined to perform this solo on bass trombone in a low key, this version works. A quibble: Publishers today have their house rules, and music writing software programs have defaults that may be “correct,” but which take away from the visual and musical understanding of a phrase. Such is the case with the opening notes of this edition of Concertino, which, instead of having the first three notes beamed together, separates them into a single note followed by two beamed notes. It is a small thing, but we find this little annoyance with increasing frequency today, such as in Carl Fischer’s 2011 edition of the Marco Bordogni/Joannès Rochut Melodious Etudes (volume 1, etude 16, for example).
Cherry Classics has put together a readable edition with sensibly placed page turns. While it would have been nice to include the alternative ending to the piece—which leaves out the second variation and leads Concertino to a quiet rather than triumphant conclusion—Charles Vernon and Erik Saras have given bass trombonists and tuba players who are looking for yet another challenge something familiar to play.

Reviewer: Douglas Yeo
Review Published January 1, 2022