G051 - G056

Peter Holman, Viola da Gamba Society of Great Britain Newsletter No. 130, July 2005:

The six sonata-suites by the Rudolstadt composer Philipp Heinrich Erlebach (1657-1714) edited by Güntersberg (G051-056) come from VI Sonate à Violino e Viola da Gamba col suo Basso Continuo (Nuremberg, 1694). Like the Becker, [Note by Edition Güntersberg: see G064] they are for violin, viola da gamba and continuo with an alternative part for a second violin instead of the gamba. In Sonatas 1, 2 and 5 the alternative is for an ordinary violin, but in nos. 3 and 4 the alternative is in scordatura, and there are also scordatura alternatives for the main violin part; they are tuned a-e'-a'-e'' and c'-g'-c''-e'' respectively. Sonata no. 6 is for violino piccolo (tuned Bb-f'-c''-g''), viola da gamba or ordinary violin and continuo. As benefits a composer a generation younger than Becker, his sonatas are more Italianate, more virtuosic and more developed. They all beginn with a multi-section sonata, and have four dances, usually Allemande-Courante-Sarabande-Gique, though with the Gique replaced by a massive and satisfying chaconne an a concluding Adagio in no. 3. In the other sonatas there are beautifully conceived variations to each strain of the sarabande.

There have been editions of the Erlebach sonatas before (no. 2 was printed in Einstein's Zur deutschen Literatur), though to my knowledge the Güntersberg edition is the first to include all the alternative parts. Sensibly, the scores give the violin and viola da gamba versions, since the title-page of the original edition makes it clear that the version with two violins is a secondary alternative. As with the other editions reviewed here, a separate continuo part is provided, but in the copies I received the original figures are only provided in the parts for Sonatas 4-6. Sonatas nos. 1-3 have an inserted slip telling the purchaser to print amended parts with the figures from the Güntersberg web-site. Since the viola da gamba part has to double as a second violin part, it is not surprising that it is entirely independend from the bass. It is also more active than in the pieces discussed above, so it is likely that by 1694 Erlebach expected a second viola da gamba to double the continuo.

Edition Güntersberg have developed a sensible and effective editorial policy. The introductions are mostly authoritative, though, as we have seen, sources are sometimes missed, and it would have been useful to have an English translation of the interesting preface to the Erlebach sonatas. [Note by Edition Güntersberg: This refers to Erlebach' original introduction which is reproduced in facsimile. Our own preface is available in English, see here.] The editions are provided with realisations, which are mostly idiomatic, though they sometimes have unnecessary decorative ideas or misunderstand the implications of the harmony. Changes are noted either in footnotes or in simple commentaries, and editorial additions are clearly indicated on the page, though added slurs are unfortunately rendered as dotted lines; the slashed slur used in British editions is much more effective. The editions are nicely presented and clearly printed. All in all, Edition Güntersberg are transforming our knowledge of the German solo viola da gamba music. Long may they flourish."
Peter Holman, Viola da Gamba Society of Great Britain Newsletter No. 130, July 2005