Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Beware the Whims of a Music Editor!

I decided it was time to listen to a few recordings of Paul Juon's Opus 15 Sonata since I'm playing it in a week or so. I'm using an edition published in 1946 by International Music that was edited by Milton Katims. The only reason I'm using the Katims is because the edition in the IMSLP prints out rather small. I need all the clarity I can get, so I chose to use the International edition. I figured that an edition from a reputable publisher wouldn't have wrong notes in it.

I was wrong.

For some reason Katims decided to change one of the notes in the main theme from the C-natural (clearly indicated in the part by the composer, in both the first statement and in the recapitulation) to a C-sharp. [For non-alto-clef readers, it's the eighth note that the viola plays, and it gets repeated three times in the measure.]

Here it is in context:

That altered note (as you will hear in the videos below) changes the main theme considerably.

Spencer Martin plays from the Katims edition:

These very fine (and unnamed players, who are probably Russian) use the 1910 German edition:

I put a query to the 1000-plus-member group of violists on Facebook about the problem, and I didn't hear a peep (though my flutist friend Jean Petree, whose mother is a violist, knew the piece). I imagine that nobody gave that C-sharp (or those C-sharps) a second thought. I wouldn't have questioned it myself if I hadn't come across that Russian recording. Thank goodness for the IMSLP!

(For the record, Katims also changed the measure before the 5/4 section in both the exposition and the recapitulation.)


Bernard Zaslav said...

I find the C# version more interesting harmonically, so that's my vote.
Gotta agree with my old friend, Milton Katims.

Bernie Zaslav

Elaine Fine said...

Thanks Bernie!

Playing the C# makes me want a resolution to D natural (which doesn't happen in the viola part, so there is instant disappointment), and playing the C natural makes me want to get to the B natural on the first beat of the next measure. I'm going with the C natural for the sake of making a more satisfying and longer line more easily.

(You and Milton Katims could both pull off a longer line no matter what the notes happened to be.)

Larry Wheeler said...

I would surely say C-natural. The piano plays that note in m. 12, and that is what appears in the recap. The melodic sequences at Tempo I are all augmented fourths. Katims heard me play it and conceded the C-sharp was a misprint.

Bernard Zaslav said...

I'm convinced; the C naturals have it.