Adagio et Grande Polonaise Brillante by Georges Kastner

Adagio et Grande Polonaise Brillante by Georges Kastner (1810-1867). Edited by Jean-Louis Couturier. Sempre piu Editions SP0045, 2013.

Georges Kastner, known for his important theoretical writings on instrumentation and also the author of one of the most definitive studies of military music (Manuel General de Musique á l’Usage des Armées Françaises [1848]) was also a gifted composer. The Adagio et Grande Polonaise Brillante for Saxhorn in B flat with piano accompaniment was dedicated to Jean-Baptiste Arban and published by Brandus in 1849 when Arban must have been at a high point of his ability. While the fabled Edison recording of Arban still remains elusive, works such as this Kastner composition can give us some idea of his virtuosity. A full-scale solo work with florid passages and lovely lyrical lines it is 298 measures long and chromatically more adventurous than many works of this period. The piano accompaniment is equally demanding. The composition encompasses a two octave range from F to f”. In Couturier’s editorial notes he explains that Kastner was an early supporter of Adolph Sax’s instrument making activities. Kastner followed Sax’s reforms, in particular the new compositions for military music that followed. The source that Couturier used for this fine and readable edition is Bibliothéque Nationale de France no. Vm103. Jean-Louis Couturier deserves praise for another fine edition in the original French wind music series put out by Sempre piu Editions.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum