The première of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano sonata op. 36

Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Saratov, Smolensk, Voronezh – what do these Russian cities have in common? No, these are not venues of the World Cup, just starting in Russia… Continue reading

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The “Picardy” major third in Chopin’s incredibly sad c-sharp minor Nocturne

What a liberating, even redemptive impact that the unexpected major third closing a piece in the minor can have, is known above all to those of us who play and listen to Bach. To give just one example that everyone would know: The strictly and relentlessly advancing c-minor prelude from the first volume of the “Well-Tempered Clavier” bursts into bloom on the very last beat with a wonderful C-major triad. (Also, my favourite Bach prelude, the one in f-sharp minor, ending in F-sharp major, from the second volume.) “Picardy” is what Rousseau calls such a kind of replacement of the third at the end of a minor piece. Continue reading

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Debussy in Urtext – Part 3: Debussy’s recordings of his piano music

Debussy at the piano

Editors of Urtext editions have added a new medium as a possible source for the period from about 1890 onwards:  historical recordings, whether played by interpreters closely associated with the composer, or even by the composer himself. This is especially true of composers’ recordings of their own piano works, since most composers of the time were also good pianists who even performed in concerts. In conjunction with recordings by Debussy and Ravel of their own piano works, Peter Cossé has left us this beautiful bon mot, ‘acoustical view under the pianistic rock of music history’. Continue reading

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Confusion about Chopin’s Scherzi – episode 4

F. Chopin (1810–1849)

At the beginning of the year I reported on my work on the two Scherzi nos. 2 & 3 by Frédéric Chopin. Even then I could announce that episode 4 would not be long in coming – and now I am keeping my promise! The revised E-major Scherzo op. 54 will soon be published, followed by a complete revised volume of all four of Frédéric Chopin’s Scherzi. Continue reading

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La Vega – The fertile plain: Isaac Albeniz’s homage to Granada and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada

Isaac Albéniz (1860–1909)

A few weeks ago my colleague Peter Jost reported here on our commitment to Spanish Romantic music. I recollect with pleasure my early years in the publishing house, when with the first volume of the Iberia Suite by Isaac Albéniz in 2002, we were heralding this new programme segment. But it was not only the well-known masterworks from his pen that were finding their way into our catalogue. Continue reading

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What?! Is it already Christmas now? New Bartók titles at Henle

Of course not, Christmas is out of the question only one week after Easter. But, the rich boon of meanwhile twelve Bartók Urtext editions already makes us think of a table loaded with gifts – especially with even amongst them, the most recently released Romanian Christmas Songs, is a veritable Christmas title. So, let’s just take a closer look…. Continue reading

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Debussy in Urtext – Part 2: Unclear harmony in the piano piece “Nocturne”

Claude Debussy (1862–1918)

One of the outstanding quality features of the Henle Editions is that the music or verbal text in every forthcoming new issue must be monitored for whatever is being corrected, eradicated or added. Then, of course, a similar review also takes place when works are re-issued in a different format. This applies now also to the early piano piece Nocturne (HN 1087), recently published as a single edition from the anthology of piano pieces (HN 404). Ernst-Günter Heinemann not only contributed here a significantly extended preface, but also added a comment (indicated as well by a footnote in the music text) – and with that we are right in the throes of the topic of this second part of our series “Debussy in Urtext”. It deals with a phenomenon that in fact comes to light, not only, but in a special way, with Debussy: an unclear harmony that cannot be unambiguously resolved. Continue reading

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No error in the system. In praise of our proofreaders

Today’s blog post is not for once going to be all about in-depth editorial questions, source problems or the complicated genesis of a composition. No, I’d like to put a sometimes trivial-seeming activity in the right light: Proofreading.

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“Right”? or “Wrong”? On a questionable note in Mendelssohn’s c-minor Piano Trio op. 66

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847)

Occasionally in the edition business there is an insoluble conflict between a clear source finding and musical “logic”. The eminent pianist, university professor and friend Michael Schäfer drew my attention to one such particularly fascinating case. The facts are briefly described and presented to my interested readers for discussion here. Continue reading

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Talking Henle Editions: A Carnival Story

The seasons are moving on and the year’s fifth season is here. The bars are packed with “party animals”, all having a great time. There’s plenty to drink, even if one or the other of the well-tempered beers sometimes comes to a crash landing. Continue reading

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