We are now selling our most popular selections of violin and cello duets in themed albums at a bargain price. Each album – Six Great Folk Tunes, Six Great Broadway Songs, Six Great Baroque Tunes and Six Great Romantic Tunes – contain the scores and individual parts of all six pieces, and is priced so that you get four arrangements for the cost of six.
Every arrangement has been imaginatively written to bring the character of the music to life and the tunes are shared between the instruments. This is an excellent way to get to know some wonderful repertoire.
Pachelbel Canon must be the easiest orchestral piece in the world for cellists to memorise – with its 28 repetitions of the 8 note bass line. Despite the numerous cellist jokes about this work (see below) I have always enjoyed playing it. It’s fairly short, the harmonies are beautiful and if you respond to what the other players are doing it becomes more fun.
For me canons, passacaglias and chaconnes are amazing musical forms where the repeated harmonies create a tautness and sense of inevitability that can be inspiring. A few that come to mind are Purcell’s Chaconne in G minor, Vitali’s Chaconne, Britten’s Passacaglia from Peter Grimes and Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, played superbly below by Heifetz: https://youtu.be/EbX3frq3Qyo
Pachelbel’s Canon however, is in a major key and has a calm confidence that has probably helped to make it so popular……..
At last cellists have the chance to play the tune (not just the accompaniment!) in Toreador Song and Habanera from Carmen, in Your Tiny Hand is Frozen from La Boheme and in Non Piu Andrai from The Marriage of Figaro. The standard is Grade 6 upwards and ricochet bowing, l.h. pizzicato, col legno, tremolos and harmonics are used to enhance the varying moods in the music.
SJ Music is based in London and specialises in unusual string chamber music and cello repertoire. It sells not only cello duets but cello quartets and octets as well as fun melodies which focus on cello harmonics and some excellent cello technique books written by the brilliant Christopher Bunting, which I can thoroughly recommend. If you haven’t discovered this imaginative publishing company yet they are well worth checking out.
One of the joys of playing a string instrument is being able to slide. Is there any string player who has ever used this technique more excitingly and expressively than Jascha Heifetz? Just listen to the pure electricity in his inimitable performance of Deep River:
Impossible to compete with that, but in a far more laid back way Roger and I used as many slides as possible to achieve a relaxed, ‘slouchy’ feel when recording Lunchtime Blues:
Returning to the theme of superb string performances and repertoire – some of Benjamin Britten’s most moving music has been written for string orchestra. Variations on a Theme of FrankBridge is one of Britten’s greatest masterpieces and the fact that it was written when he was only 24 makes it even more astounding.
This work was composed as a tribute to Britten’s teacher Frank Bridge, with the idea that each of the variations would reflect a different side of Bridge’s personality. However, the writing transcends this formula and comes so directly from the heart that it reveals Britten’s most vulnerable feelings. Even the apparently lighter variations – one of which is beautifully played below by the European Camerata – have such sensitivity they touch the heart:
Britten writes superbly well for strings and knows how to exploit their strongest characteristics. His use of pizzicato, in both Simple Symphony (a lighter string orchestral work) and the Frank Bridge Variations often demands virtuosity – as can be seen in this performance by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra:
We have just published our violin and cello duet arrangement of Alleluia from Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate. Is this the happiest music in the world? Maybe! Mozart wrote it when he was only 17. Here’s the original orchestration:
The latest string duet arrangement we are selling is Tambourin by Francois Joseph Gossec. Gossec was born in 1734, wrote a huge number of operas, ballets and symphonies and became the favourite composer of Revolutionary France. Today he is most famous for Tambourin – a delightful piece which lifts the spirit, as you can hear in this vibrant flute and harp arrangement:
We have just published our violin and cello duet arrangement of Air on a G String – perhaps Bach’s most famous work. This piece has been a challenge to arrange for string duet. Roger and I both wrote versions, neither of which felt quite right so we abandoned the idea. However, the problems somehow resolved themselves and Roger created the arrangement we are selling now which is beautifully balanced and calm. Click here to buy it on our Music Sales’ page…
This performance brings the dance character to life wonderfully well and all the members of the group are playing by heart, which can give an added sense of freedom as long as you are experienced enough to feel confident. A Far Cry clearly is, and the results speak for themselves.