Best edition of Brahms sonatas?
I am about to buy sheet music for the Brahms sonatas and wonder if anyone here had a chance to compare the Henle and Bärenreiter Urtext editions? Reading the descriptions at least the Bärenreiter seems to come with both marked and unmarked violin parts. But the marked part is mentioned to have "fingering and bowing based on the practices of Joseph Joachim and his colleagues" and while that may be interesting to study I think it may be quite far from what is considered best practice now?
Does the Henle edition also include an unmarked part?
Any issues with page turns? (I think both these editions would be taking care to arrange for easy page turns when possible)
I am not familiar with the various editions of the Brahms sonatas. However, I am familiar with Barenreiter and Henle editions generally, although I have not purchased a Henle for several years. I generally prefer Barenreiter simply because I find it more readable generally and like having the edited and unedited versions separate. Unless Henle has changed its practices in the last several years, the one version they give you shows fairly clearly what is in the original and what the edits are. So, depending on what is important to you, it may or may not matter much which edition you purchase. If you can see them in a music store (or for that matter the two urtext editions for any piece), you can see what you think of readability, etc. With regard to the Barenreiter edits, remember that these pieces were likely written for Joachim, and he may have had some inputs, so his edits would be very revealing. The fact that his school is no longer in favor does not undercut the value of his edits. I have a version of the Brahms VC which he edited, and I would not trade it for an urtext, since Joachim had substantial input into it. Good luck! The sonatas are gorgeous.
I think you can also get a good range of options if you order the digital Henle editions. All kinds of choices for edits, and you can download to ForScore to make your own markings on top of whatever you choose.
I don't like the fingerings in either, but apart from that, both are nice editions.
Kate - that's why I want an edition with an unmarked part.
Whoops. Yeah, I think the Barenreiter has an unmarked part.
It looks like these are available as Wiener Urtext and I really like the printing and binding quality of what they do. No unmarked parts though.
Interesting: I have always found Henle more readable than Bärenreiter. Clear contrast and never overcrowded pages. Though I admit I don't have their Brahms sonatas. I have the Beethoven sonatas and love them though I could do without the highly idiosyncratic fingerings. Their Haydn and Beethoven quartets mercifully to not have fingerings (except for those few that are in their sources).
I'm always amused by these discussions where people say they hate the fingerings in edited parts. Okay sure, I get that it's anyone's prerogative to prefer urtext parts. But I have to wonder, what percentage of the fingerings are really that bad? How is it that an editor (often the likes of Ivan Galamian) got them so terribly wrong? If you're playing the Bach E Major Prelude and there are two or three fingerings that don't work for you, does that mean Carl Herrmann was a complete dumbass? Moreover, were
Henle fingerings are usually German editors, which doesn't use semitone shifting as often. If anything it's something fun to try out ...
Paul, I think differences in fingering can really reflect other trends in music, like movements like HIP. I have the Barenreiter of the Beethoven Romances, and there are some fingerings and editing choices that seem odd to me, and like a turning away from a previous generation's style of playing (which I happen to like). I also have the Rode Caprices edited by Max Rostal, and he must have had a big hand, because there are a number of places where the fingerings just don't work for me, and it seems clear that they come from his personal approach.
I grew up with the Schirmer, Fischer, Peters and International editions - bowed and fingered - and other editions of similar print size - and that is what I have always liked (except for a short period as cataracts clouded my eyes and I had to enlarge the music I played).
Why many don't like fingerings in sheet music? There are a number of reasons.
I like International for its readability- it's what I'm used to, I guess. I also like thinking about why an editor chose a particular fingering over other options. However, I absolutely hate anything edited by Galamian and won't buy them. It can also be really fun to go through the decades of the same piece edited by different people and see how technique and style has changed throughout the years. Kreisler's Beethoven Sonatas (published by International) are fun to study.
"I recently played a Brahms sonata in a Barenreiter edition and had to change 80% of the fingerings. They were just unimaginable to my hand & ear. They had been written by a Baroque HIP expert (who for some reason was editing a Brahms score...) so that may have had something to do with it."
Kate - why did you not just use the unedited urtext and work out the fingerings that best suited you?
Kate - obviously, an urtext does not include bowing and articulation unless the composer put them in to begin with. As with the fingerings, you work those out also. That's the beauty of a true urtext. You fill in the interpretive parts the composer did not put in.
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