Duport: 21 Etudes

Bärenreiter-Verlag BA 6980
September 2005

Jean Louis Duport
21 Etudes (with an accompaniment of a second cello ad libitum)
ed and with a text volume by Martin Rummel

When I started looking at the Duport etudes, the discovery of the Janet et Cotelle edition was a huge surprise. Not only that it had the accompaniment (which is not included in any of the 19th century editions that used to be the only ones available), but also seeing to which extent the editors had interfered with the original text and style. As with so many other works (the Boccherini Concerto first and foremost), Grützmacher nearly recomposes at many places, he adds articulations, dynamics and skips or alters whole passages. Which is probably what was appropriate in his time, when playing past music was not really the main activity of a lot of musicians, and if past music was played, then mostly in the style of what was going on at the time - which was the case until the middle of the 20th century. With the performance practice movement came the urge to look at what might have happened at the time. Strangely enough it is cellists who seem to have ignored all this more than pianists, conductors or violinists: Internationally, there is still a majority of players who use Bach editions that have nothing to do with any of the source and Gendron's outrageous Haydn version still seems to be the most popular, even if in that case we have a very clear manuscript ...

The Duport studies are a perfect basis for looking into the 18th century playing style while making some "mileage" in technical terms. They are unpretentious, enjoyable and charming pieces and rather tricky to play well. But they also open the mind and increase the student's phantasy for performing 18th century repertoire.

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