Monday, August 23, 2010

Sibelius Violin Transcriptions

The Schumann "Three Romances" are well known, and commonly performed. Every oboist, from the seventh grader to the professional, works on this piece and performs in at least one recital during their career because it is one of only a handful of quality pieces in this genre, as compared the amount of baroque works available. It is a universal piece for oboists because in terms of technique, it is accessible to most but leaves the door open for endless musical development and interpretation. 

But this post is actually not about the "Three Romances".  Sibelius offers many fantastic orchestral oboe solos but never provided solo oboe works...until now. And like the Schumann pieces, this music could be performed by both students and professionals (granted, of course, they have a Loboe...). In the more approachable category are the short works for violin and piano, Op. 78 Nos. 1-4. The first three movements are elegant yet simple. They utilize the "Low A" very well and could be easily prepared by intermediate to advanced students (as well as the pianist hired for their performance) in a few lessons. There are a few issues with the third movement, "Religios" due to some extended passages that go beyond the "Low A". However, I think it would be very interesting to experiment with the use of harmonics as a color alternative instead of simply playing the passage up the octave. How would you approach this movement, I'd be interested to hear some other ideas!

The other works are two movements from his violin show pieces, Op. 79 No. 4 and No. 5. They have moments of virtuosity but nothing that is too much of a stretch...but one must be up for a challenge!  The "Serenade" and "Tanz-Idylle" are both very short and could stand alone or as a pair. Sometimes the most impressive quality of an oboist is the perfect execution of an octave leap (check out ms. 45-46 in the Serenade!). The other movements of this set are worth a look but I found difficult to transcribe for the Loboe.

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