FOR THE CURIOUS CELLIST

Beethoven Romance No 2 in F Op 50

As so often occurs when arranging violin music for cello, we have to decide in which key to play this beautiful Romanze. Playing it in the original key (but one octave lower of course) has two advantages. Firstly, the accompaniment does not need to be transposed or rewritten, and secondly, the “easier” version is simply one octave lower (two octaves lower than the violin version) with no other note changes necessary. But the original-key version has the great disadvantage that the register is often uncomfortably high for the cello. We have three ways to deal with this problem:

  1. practice lots and just play it as is, up high
  2. rewrite the highest passages to make them easier (see below)
  3. transpose the whole Romanze into a lower key

Existing cello transcriptions of this piece all follow the first option (original key and no note modifications) which makes this beautiful piece quite challenging and dangerous for all but the very best cellists. Playing this Romanze in a lower key (down a fifth or a fourth) gives us the great advantage of bringing it into a more comfortable register for the solo cello, but unfortunately these advantages do not apply to the accompaniment. Transposing the entire accompaniment down by such a large interval is possible for the piano – and requires only the click of a few buttons on an electronic piano – but it is not possible for an orchestra, as some instruments will have notes out of their range. Also, if we transpose the accompaniment uniformly down a fourth (or a fifth) it risks sounding too low. Therefore, in the two alternative-key versions offered here (transposed down by a fourth and a fifth respectively), the piano accompaniments have been revoiced in some passages (with some notes being transposed up instead of down) in order to avoid the accompaniment register being too low.

Bear in mind that the piano accompaniment parts are “orchestral reductions”. Depending on the skill of the pianist, these parts can be simplified by the removal of many non-essential notes (octaves etc). It is better to play less notes and play them well, rather than trying unsuccessfully to play as many notes of the orchestra parts as possible! In the cello parts of the transposed versions no notes have needed to be modified except for bars 64-65 which have been transposed up an octave to get them out of the “elephant register”.

Here then are the downloadable sheet music versions, with piano accompaniment parts included.

1: IN THE ORIGINAL KEY

Edited Performance Version   Clean Performance Version    Easier Version    Literal Transcription      Piano Score

To avoid the difficulty of the excessively high register, in the original-key performance-version two short passages (bars 24, 25 and 28) have been modified as shown in the following examples:

notes trans Beet Op 50

Several different piano accompaniment versions of the orchestral reduction can be downloaded from the imslp website here.

TRANSPOSED INTO A LOWER KEY

Unable to decide between the options of transposing down a fifth or a fourth, both transpositions are presented. In both of these transpositions those two passages shown above which basically needed to be modified for cello in the original key version, are perfectly playable without any modification. In fact, no notes have needed to be changed for either of these versions except for bars 64-65 which have been transposed up an octave to get them out of the “elephant register”. The “easier” versions of these two transpositions also lie in a better register than that of the original key because they are not so low.

TRANSPOSED DOWN A FOURTH (INTO C MAJOR)

This C major version lies very well for the cello – even better perhaps than the transposition down a fifth that we most often use for transcribing violin music for cello.

Edited Performance Version    Clean Performance Version       Easier Version     Literal Transcription       Piano Score

TRANSPOSED DOWN A FIFTH (INTO Bb MAJOR)

The piano part of this transposition is revoiced higher than that of the “down a fourth” version.

Edited Performance Version       Clean Performance Version      Easier Version      Piano Score