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Carl Nielsen  : Arranged  by Colette Mourey : 3 Pieces from Humoreske Bagateller Op11: Bergmann

Carl Nielsen: Arranged for solo guitar by Colette Mourey

Bergmann: 12 pages


The Danish composer Carl Nielsen originally wrote these short pieces for piano, and here they have been arranged for solo guitar by Colette Mourey, from a set of six in total.

Like much of Nielsen’s music they possess their own sound world which is tonal but highly unusual especially in its chord progressions. The opening piece here, En Lille Langsom Vals (A little slow waltz) is in A Major now, a very guitaristic key, but the piece doesn’t stay there for long at all. Written very largely here in two voices it develops many accidentals from bar 13 onwards going through several keys as it progresses. This piece does therefore not sit very naturally on the guitar and the flow that is noticeable on the piano version is very hard to achieve on the guitar. The piece is very carefully fingered but that nevertheless does not make it easy at all to create the same flowing effect.

Goddag ! Goddag ! (Good day! Good day! ) is quirky and bouncy, and is again in A Major. At the piano speed it does prove again very difficult to achieve successfully but is certainly playable. Interestingly there is a YouTube performance by the arranger that is supposedly played on guitar, but, and I may be wrong here, it sounds like a keyboard trying to sound like a guitar, which goes a lot to saying how difficult it is to actually perform on the guitar.

The final piece Spraellemanden (The man of speech) is full of demi – semi – quaver runs that are quite Ok on a piano but extremely hard on our guitar, especially at the speed pianists play it. It jumps around constantly moving , as the other two did, from key to key, creating a very odd sound world as it continues, which would be fine if it wasn’t so difficult to play, but it is however really tricky. Moreover it ends after a molto accelerando on a penultimate bar of octave demi – semi – quavers which would be beyond most players.

So in essence this odd trio is only for the most advanced of players, and even then I would question exactly how convincing as a guitar arrangement it really is, and therefore I am not convinced that this little trio actually work well on the guitar as they currently stand


Chris Dumigan

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