Review


Richard Wagner
Siegfried’s Funeral Music: from Götterdämmerung, Act III

Arranged by Ralph Sauer

Brass choir (four trumpets in C, four horns in F, three trombones, tenor tuba, two bass tubas) and percussion

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2017
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com

Score and parts

Genre: BRASS ENSEMBLES

Iconic in every way, the music of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen has influenced generations of composers and musicians. Comprised of four immense operas, with their unifying and ground-breaking leitmotifs, the cycle’s music is still relevant and interesting today. While many have extracted portions of Wagner’s unusually large score as the basis for settings for smaller ensembles, Ralph Sauer’s arrangement of Siegfried’s Funeral Music from the Third Act of Götterdämmerung stands as a particularly successful adaptation of this famous music. Sauer scores this music for a relatively typical brass choir: 4 trumpets, 4 horns, 3 trombones, tenor tuba, 2 tubas, and percussion (timpani, triangle and optional cymbals). While some might bemoan the lack of instruments like Wagner tubas, bass trumpet, and contrabass trombone, their omission in favor of a more typical brass choir scoring will allow this music to be played by a wider variety of ensembles.

Sauer’s vast experience as an arranger, in addition to his lengthy orchestral career, shows in his careful and respectful scoring of Wagner’s music. In this arrangement, Sauer takes the thirty-second note passages and similarly quick note values from the string parts and distributes them appropriately among the valved instruments. He leaves Wagner’s scoring of motives and harmonies as intact as possible throughout: the trumpets retain the sword motive at one climax, for example, while the horns follow with the Siegfried motive.

Typical of Cherry Classics publications, parts and score are well laid out and easy to read.  Sauer’s scoring requires a group of relatively advanced players in order to navigate the parts borrowed from the string section as well as the general needs of Wagnerian playing styles. His arrangement of this famous music is a welcome addition to the repertoires of college brass choirs and other upper-level large brass ensembles.

Reviewer: Chad Arnow
Review Published April 2, 2019