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15 April 2017

18. Moving targets (Episode #2)

Although I meant to get back to this a long time ago, this is only the second in a series considering different editions of the same work issued by the same publisher but without any notice of textual discrepancies between them.  Sometimes these changes are hardly more than cosmetic, but sometimes they are real nuisances, and sometimes inexplicable meddling.

SOURCE:  scan of 2013 printing
The example in this post will be the two Alphonse Leduc editions of Glazunovs Saxophone Concerto (1934), and I will be considering only the versions issued avec accompagnement de piano rather than the full score.  The first edition appeared in 1936, bearing the plate number A.L. 19,256.  A scan of a 2007 reprint of this edition (judging from the imprint date on the last page, anyway) is available on the IMSLP.  I cannot date the second edition, but the terminus ante quem is 2013, the imprint date of the copy I have to hand, and would roughly coincide with Leducs acqusition by the multinational Music Sales Group.  (Worldcat doesnt help much to date this second edition:  all of the Leduc printings listed there are said to be 19 pages, while this is 22pp.)  The copyright date on the second edition remains 1936, and indeed both the cover (at right) and the plate number (AL 19 256) also remain the same.  I strongly oppose their re-use of the same plate number when the editions are manifestly different productions.  In any case, my use of plate number is not really accurate:  even if the first edition was engraved on copper plates, the second edition is a re-setting via computer notation software.  It is the tell-tale short cuts typical of computer-setting that I want to highlight here, as I think the earlier version makes for a clearer read.  Here is an example from the very first page:
SOURCES:  bb. 6-7; cropped digital scans of first ed. Leduc piano score, p. 1 (left) and second ed. Leduc piano score, p. 1 (right) 
Crowded as the first edition may be in b. 7, the five voices of the counterpoint are quite clear, and the pianist understands which notes belong to which line.  In the second edition, there is no delineation of the five voices, and the beaming in the new top voice even obscures that on beat 2 there is an entrythe highest, and thus arguably a climaxof the main motive of the introduction.  The viola and cello lines are subsumed into a sort of new tenor voice.  Most troubling is the movement of the f marking ahead by a beat, which suggests even a bringing out of the inner voice at beat 2.  The orchestral score presents the opposite situationthe f appears first in the first violins (beat 2) and in the rest of the ensemble a beat or more later.

What is frustrating about this is that it is merely the product of laziness:  it would take a little more time at the computer to arrive at the configuration of the first edition, and the setter apparently didnt think it was worth it.  The version on the right is marginally easier to play, but I think that is the only thing I can say in its favor.

There are a number examples where to me the changes in the notational configurations in the two Leduc editions do not amount to improvements, but I will consider just a few here.
SOURCES:  bb. 47-48; cropped digital scans of first ed. Leduc piano score, p. 3 (left) and second ed. Leduc piano score, p. 4 (right) 
That one is hard to explain.  To my eye, the first edition is clearer, although I grant that the reading on the right makes the crossing of the upper parts more obvious.  Still, the lower stave looks curious, with the stem-down downbeat and no rest above it.

SOURCES:  bb. 131-32; cropped digital scans of first ed. Leduc piano score, p. 7 (left) and second ed. Leduc piano score, p. 9 (right) 
This one is my favorite, a true comedy of error.  I think I can reconstruct what happened in this instance.  I think the computer-setter set the lower staff first, thenwhile setting the upper staff and converting it to the bass clefdecided to move the mano destra line also into the upper staff.  The comedy is that the setter never deleted this line in the lower staff, so it is duplicated erroneously, uselesslyindeed meaninglessly.  Maybe its just me, but I chuckle to myself about such absurdities.

SOURCES:  bb. 227-28; cropped digital scans of first ed. Leduc piano score, p. 12 (top) and second ed. Leduc piano score, p. 14 (bottom) 
Here I would argue that both versions are unplayable as notated (at least at the 100-beats-a-minute tempo).  The second edition moves the bass-line up an octavesomething a player might do anywayeven when Glazunov scores this for cellos and basses an octave and two octaves below this register (but not at all in the register notated here).  As an accompanist often playing these sorts of orchestral reductions, I generally prefer to know what the general texture is (even when unplayable by me) and adapt as I have to than to have someone else attempt to much simplification for me.  The first edition just gives more.  It is instructive to compare this passage as it appears in the recent Bärenreiter edition:
SOURCE: bb. 227-28 of piano reduction by Martin Schelhaas (Bärenreiter 8732a), p. 13; the bar numbers are different because this edition counts the cadenza as one bar.  (It includes three different versions of the cadenza, and an interesting tale it is.)
Throughout the Bärenreiter edition the piano reduction has been entirely rethought with an eye toward simplifying it down to something reasonableeven though the editors acknowledge that the Leduc first edition piano reduction seems to have been the work of Glazunov himself rather than A[ndre] Petiot, to whom the Leduc editions have given the credit.  Thus the Bärenreiter Urtextand a very good edition it is in many respectshas jettisoned the authentic piano part.  Although the Urtext label appears on the cover, the title page is more accurate:  With an Urtext Solo part... Piano Reduction based on the Urtext.  (There is a critical report included in the corresponding urtext full score, but there is of course not one for the new piano reduction, which also lacks a description of the sources.  Martin Schelhaas seems to have used the second Leduc edition as his starting point, but the result is a wholly new and worthy reduction.)  This piano reduction also includes an additional soloist part (i.e., non-urtext), edited for performance by Carina Raschèr, daughter of Sigurd Raschèr, for whom the work was written.

This publication is not the strongest in the Bärenreiter catalogue (as even without hunting for them I found small errors in both the musical text of the full score and the critical report), and it is even more curious for its mixture of urtext and practical approaches.  (I will return to that particular dilemma in my next post.)  Nonetheless, it is not the focus of this post, and it is in any case better than the second Leduc edition.  I find it extremely irksome that Leduc would reissue the work, bearing the same plate number as the first edition but with an inferior presentation of the text.  The Leduc standard has been lowered, although perhaps not to half-mast.


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