Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi's Nabucco
2nd July 2018
The motivation for writing this transcription came not only from an ardent love of Verdi’s immortal original, but the fact that there is a striking absence of any substantial arrangement of it in the piano literature; a circumstance curious to relate considering the universal popularity of the work during an especially fertile era of pianist-composers parading newly-minted transcriptions, paraphrases and fantasies on operas of the day.
While writing this transcription I sought to give as faithful and fulsome an impression of Verdi’s original within the confines of the piano as might be mustered. In doing so, it is my wish that this offering goes some small way towards filling a gap in the literature and upholding the tradition of the pianist-composer.
Alkan/Viner Quand Israël sortit d'Egypte
16th July 2018
Charles-Valentin Alkan’s 3 Anciennes Mélodies juives were written in 1854 for Mlle. Zina de Mansouroff (1830-1899), a former pupil of Chopin and lady-in-waiting at the court of the Empress at St. Petersburg. They have remained in MS ever since.
The first two pieces, Chant du nouvel an – (Adon Olam) and Consolation & espérance pour le rétablissement – (Terahkayim b’tsiyon), are both melodies from the Jewish liturgy and are scored for soprano and piano, while the last, Quand Israël sortit d’Egypte – (B’tseit Yisrael mi-Mitzrayim) is a folk melody of the German Jews of Venice, which was later adopted by the liturgy and also found its way into Benedetto Marcello’s (1686-1739) Estro poetico-armonico of 1724-7. Whether Alkan knew the melody through the synagogue or Marcello’s work, however, remains unclear. This third piece, unlike the first two, is for either organ or [pedal] harpsichord – “organo o clavicembalo” though, being scored on three staves, it was, in all likelihood, conceived for the pedal piano.
Through its brief course the piece seems to radiate a profound sense of spiritual joy and is quietly moving in its simplicity. I have long reflected that it would be a thousand pities should this little piece remain relegated to the relatively limiting instrumentation for which it was conceived, hence this arrangement in which I have sought to redistribute the five voices of the original in as practical and elegant a fashion as might be negotiated under ten fingers alone.