Transcription from an orchestral original to modern wind band is a series of choices and compromises. There are, of course, string effects that just have no substitute in winds and percussion. The soaring, long line strings-over-the others moments have no real band counterpart. Actual tremolos, not an alternation of pitches but a rapid reiteration of a single note without separation, is not at all the same as rapid tonguing on a wind instrument. But there are also the issues of transparency, color and balance. Having twelve flutes divided into two parts is a totally different weight and timbre from one on a part. At best in the transcription process, we can hope to create a good facsimile of some moments of the source material and to provide logical substitutes for others, maintaining the essence of the composer’s intent while translating it to another medium. It really does result in a different piece, hopefully worthy of the composer and the performers, but, none the less, different.
Spanish Dances, Moritz Moszkowski.
This is a setting of three of the original five dances, originally for piano, four hands, which date back to 1893. These are very musical, tuneful, short pieces, not particularly Spanish sounding, despite the title, that are great, accessible tunes for phrasing and musicianship, then are worthy of programming. I discovered these several years ago in a now-ancient edition and felt that they deserved a modern version and that today’s students deserve to know them. I went back to the piano original and rescored from the original set of five, numbers 1, 4 and 5. Completed in June, 2009, Number 1 is grade 4, 1:50, Number 2 (4) grade 3, 2:50, and Number 3 (5) grade 4, 2:30. Listen to a midi rendition of each of the Spanish Dances on the Recordings page below. Click on the links below to view scores to each of the Spanish Dances.
Gayaneh, Five Dances from the Ballet, Aram Khachaturian
Included in this suite are:
Introduction (Fanfare) :37
Gopak (Hopak)-Ukranian 2:48
Dance of the Maidens-Armenian 2:02
Mountaineers’ Dance-Kurdish 2:00
As the order of the dances within the ballet itself was rearranged at different times for different purposes, these dances may be used in any combination from a single dance to the entire suite. All of the good licks of the original are here. Two sections have been cast in more favorable keys and the Lullaby shortened by a few minutes. Other than that, it is all there. Woodwind players get plenty to do! The dances vary in technical challenge, up to grade 6 for soprano woodwinds on some of them, but are all tonal. If the players know their scales, they’ll do fine. The Introduction and first three dances were published by Schirmer (production work by Hal Leonard) in the summer of 2009. The complete suite was given its premier performance in February 2009 by Lemont (IL) High School, Terry Redford conductor, and was performed by Illinois State University, Steve Steele conductor, in April 2009. Listen to a midi rendition of the Gayaneh dances on the Recordings page. Listen to a live performance of the Introduction and first two dances (excerpted) and a full performance of the third on the Hal Leonard web site at: http://www.halleonard.com/common/audio/50486970.mp3 There is much more here than on the mailer.
La vida breve, Manuel de Falla
There is, remarkably, very little by Falla, save for Ritual Fire Dance, available for wind band. La vida breve, Falla’s first major work, something of a Flamenco opera, is largely unknown to most. The two dance scenes from this opera are vivaciously Spanish and definitely “Falla”! I have done them as two sets:
Part 1, Aria and Dance, where the tenor Flamenco soloist is cast in the euphonium. This dance is one of the best dance moments in orchestra (operatic) literature. Hopefully I have captured its sweep, excitement and just pure fun. Grade 6, 5:30. Click on the link below to view the score to La vida, Part 1.
Part 2, Intermezzo and Dance—A rhapsodic and moody scene set primarily in the woodwinds, giving way to a dramatic tension moment which takes us into the dance. Sweep and grandeur describe this piece and it is definitely “Spanish.” Grade 5, 6:35. Click on the link below to view the score to La vida, Part 2.
These are really wonderful, colorful, performer and audience pleasing dances, well worth the effort to prepare them. These settings were first performed by Eastern Kentucky University, Joe Allison, conductor, in December of 2008. Listen to a rehearsal recording of La vid breve parts 1 and 2 on the Recordings page below.
And the Glory of the Lord, from The Messiah, George Friederic Handel For choral accompaniment. This transcription maintains a transparency and openness to allow the voices to be heard. It has been recast in Ab from its not-so-band-friendly original key of A. Singers have proven to not have difficulty with this change. Other than key, all of the material of the original is present. (By the way, why is it that Handel always gets all three names, like John Phillip Sousa, and can’t get by with only two? How many other Handels and Sousas do we know?) Makes a strong pairing with the Hallelujah Chorus for a combined band and chorus holiday concert. Grade 3, 3:40. Listen to a live performance of And the Glory of the Lord on the Recordings page below. Click on the link below to view the score to And the Glory of the Lord.