Günter Raphael (1903–1960) Divertimento Op. 74
Sax & Cello: a rarity in the repertoire
32 pages | 23 x 30,5 cm | 149 g | ISMN: 979-0-004-16652-9 | Softcover
In the last decade of his life, Günter Raphael turned repeatedly and intensively to the alto saxophone as solo instrument. Belonging to this little work group is the Concertino op. 71 (1951), also published by Breitkopf & Härtel. Thanks to its uncommon scoring for the cello as partner and accompanying instrument, the highly effective work is a sought-after gem, a rarity in the repertoire.
The new edition is based on the critically examined first printing published in 1953 by Breitkopf & Härtel.
In the last decade of his life, the composer Günter Raphael devoted himself repeatedly and intensively to the alto saxophone as solo instrument, beginning in 1951 with a concert piece for alto saxophone and orchestra, the Concertino op. 71, which was followed the year after by the present Divertimento and, finally, the Sonata for alto saxophone and piano and the Récitatif for the same scoring, both in 1957/58. These four works represent a particularly crucial contribution to the solo literature for this instrument in the period of classical modernity, which further consolidated the importance of the saxophone in this era. There is no doubt that Raphael had an affinity to the alto saxophone. His works allow the instrumentalist to demonstrate the instrument’s amazing versatility of tone as well as the impressive breadth of its sound volume
The Divertimento occupies a special position within this work group, since Raphael uses the violoncello as an accompanying instrument. With this decision, the solo instrument and accompaniment are not cast in different roles from the start as, similarly to the traditional scoring for solo instrument and piano, the cello does not always function as an equal partner in this work, but comports itself over long stretches as an accompanying instrument
The work title and, furthermore, the closing Rondo movement could be taken at first for a general reference to the early classical era; however, the work’s other movements fail to deliver on this expectation. The title selected by Raphael – Divertimento – tends rather to underscore the variational breadth of the expressive musical resources. With its impulsive, rhythmically contoured accents, the Improvisation at the start of the work already betrays its closeness to jazz and thus to the primary use of the saxophone. The Scherzo – Burleske is clearly at home in the art music of the mid 20th century, thanks to its bizarre figurations and to its frequent changes of meter. The meandering cantilenas of the Elegie can be seen as the Divertimento’s attempt to evoke the style of lateromantic salon music. The second movement, the Serenade, also throws a bridge between romanticism and modernity. The gestural quality and role distribution of the two instruments are entirely subjected to tradition here – but not the prevailing 7/8 time and the unexpected, almost improvisatory outbursts of the “solo instrument.” The closing Rondo pursues a different type of mystification: it initially suggests a fugue, but then, with a wink of the eye, soon leads to a “Spielmusik” style that truly recalls early classical models and brings the Divertimento to an effective close
The present edition is based on the original print first published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1953, which was critically examined for this new edition
Wiesbaden, Spring 2013