Jean-Baptiste Bréval – Six Sonates à violoncelle et basso Op. 12
Finally, after almost one year of publishing silence, I am thrilled to announce Artistic Score Engraving’s latest release, the six sonatas for cello with bass accompaniment opus 12 by Jean-Baptiste Bréval.
This was a joint effort between me and Prof. Yuriy Leonovich, Assistant Cello Professor position at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, with whom we now completed all three sonata-collections by Bréval.
Most of us cellists know far too well Bréval’s Sonata in C major op. 40 n° 1, either from the Suzuki Book 4 or from our early conservatory days; it is a true pity, though, that most if not all his other sonatas are barely played at all—with the exception of op. 12 n° 5 in G major, taught to advanced students.
Both me and Prof. Leonovich are daily using these sonatas in our teaching curriculum and are witnessing the great benefits they bring to our students. The relative simplicity of the accompaniment, moreover, allows for great duet material for students of different levels and to practice style and musical taste.
Op. 40 is aimed mainly at beginner students who are starting to leave the safe haven provided by the first position, and was written only in Bass F-clef; Op. 28 brings this up a notch and has the cello part entirely written in Tenor C-clef, introducing shifts up to the 7th position; eventually, Op. 12 forsakes all limitations and parks the student’s left hand in thumb position, with many passages written in Treble G-clef, some even reaching the end of the fingerboard.
This practice of writing composition in a diminishing degree of difficulty was quite common at the time of Bréval (end of XVIII century) and I find it no hard to understand why: in this precise case, after realising Op. 12 was not suitable for many cellists, Op. 28 would allow more students in and so on and so forth. Both Dotzauer and Romberg have similar patterns emerging throughout their production.
What is in here?
Without further ado, let’s dive into what this edition is made of and why it is an unmissable addition to your cello music collection.
The score is an Urtext reproduction of the earliest available source for these sonatas, published by Richomme in Paris around the year 1783. You will not find any version of these sonatas around with such a clear and faithful reproduction of the source and with such a proudly laid out engraving. Any clear mistake or omission has been added in square brackets or pointed out in footnotes but I am happy to say there were very few of them.
Compared to the sonatas in the previous two collections these are just huge, each of them with three elaborate movements, simple enough to be perfect for students who need to become aware of the Classical form without being overwhelmed by the complexities more blazoned composers provide. This results in a score which is 48 pages long, of which here you can enjoy the first page:
While it is possible to play from this score, it will require quite a lot of fiddling and taping of pages, that is the reason why I did not insist of finding perfect page turns here—simply because there were not—but veered towards a beautiful layout. If you, like me, are already performing from an iPad-like device, you will have no trouble using this score as well.
Now for what sets this edition apart: six other documents are provided beyond the score, to which you may ask “But how? There are only a cello and bass part!”. Exactly, but my goal was to provide digital and print version for both of them and also for the annotated version. You will be able to distinguish what is what from the cover and from the small footer in every page (see following pictures):
Version labelled ASE0020-01A corresponds to the Urtext version of the cello part (that is, containing only Bréval’s own marks) in digital format, which means you will not find any blank page within the music as it is meant to be performed or browsed from an iPad-like device. It is optimised for the 12.9in screen but its 3×4 format ensures that any good application you may be using will scale it down properly.
Version ASE0020-01B is the same Urtext version of the cello part but in a print-friendly layout: it contains several foldout pages, all to be found at the end of the PDF, which will need to be taped alongside their corresponding pages (e.g.: page 11-bis will go to the right of page 11).
Version ASE0020-02A and -02B follow the same idea but contain the Basso part, while ASE0020-03A and -03B contain the Annotated cello part, with fingering and bowing suggestions by Prof. Leonovich.
I am planning to provide my own performance instructions in the future but I need more time to test these with my students. Also, creating a new version is an incredibly time-consuming work, so it needs to be something that I feel the audience wants!
So, where can I get this?
Forgive me for teasing you so long without giving you a proper link!
Bréval’s Six Sonates à violoncelle et basso, Op. 12 are officially available starting now at this link on Gumroad. They will also be available on other platforms but at a greater price because of their fees policies so I will not share those links here. Moreover, being the 6th of November Bréval’s birthday I am offering a 5 EUR discount on those who will purchase it during the launch week. Simply add promo code “launch-party” to the field during your purchase process to enjoy the discount.
The previous collections are also available: Six Sonates d’un genre agreable, Op. 28 and Six Sonates faciles Op. 40.
If you are interested in any of my other scores and books, you can find them all listed here on Gumroad.
It has been a hell of a ride going through these three collections to release the first ever complete edition of Bréval’s Sonatas, and I hope you will enjoy practicing, playing and teaching them as much as I have enjoyed preparing them.
If you want to stay tuned with all my updates, please follow my Gumroad page or my Facebook page. I am also there on Twitter—I’m @m_galvagno—, come say hi and tell me what you think of this new edition, or of anything you have purchased in the past.