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Marble Surface

Joseph Lanner

Elite Tänze, Walzer, Op. 182

Original Orchestration

00:00 / 08:39

My transcription of the autograph score of this waltz by Joseph Lanner.

Back when I started doing this I just wanted to hear some more Lanner as very little was recorded. It was just for my own amusement as I didn’t think anyone else would be interested. This waltz was one of the first orchestrations I did, never having seen a Lanner score or heard anything by Lanner played on the right size orchestra and in an appropriate style. Most, if not all, recordings I had access to were for full symphony orchestra and played in a late 19th century manner. The situation has improved since then.

Needless to say, my attempt was hopelessly anachronistic but I did at least get to hear the tunes. A few years back, after having seen some genuine scores, I got fed up with wincing at it again and did some patching. It was better but still obviously not right. Having started wincing at it yet again I found the autograph in the Wien Bibliothek and this is the result.

Not all of the issues were as a result of my late 19th century mindset. I did the orchestration from a set of quartet parts originally written for three violins and bass. Anything written for lower middle register instruments like the cello must be transposed and perhaps altered. At the very beginning the cello plays pizzicato. In the quartet score the third violin plays something similar but arco and at a higher pitch. I did actually work out that it was for cello but left it arco which sounded more romantic and led me to make the rest of the accompaniment more romantic too.

With no cello part in the quartet score, the orchestral cello part is a blank canvas for my overactive imagination. Similarly, Lanner’s wind writing is a bit unambitious. As a former wind player, faced with empty staves, there is a tendancy to fill them up with nice things for the wind players. Wrong!

Also the quartet dynamics are marked up. f becomes ff, so when orchestrating the instrumentation becomes too heavy. Lanner uses very little percussion.

I would probably do a better job these days but it would naturally still not be Lanner. I have learned some of his routine but I can never hope to emulate the spark. He does put stuff in that is not in the piano or quartet scores but even if I work out how much is appropriate for a waltz written at a particular point in his life, it is never going to be right.

Unfortunately, there are a number of my early orchestrations, mostly by Lanner, that are still making me wince. I feel a cull coming on.

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