- Bart van Sambeek Piano Editions
We still tend to understand the classical and romantic periods of music through the work of a handful of great composers. This series is a welcome effort to make available some of the neglected masterworks for the piano. It surely represents a labor of love on the part of its editor, Bart van Sambeek, and many pianists will be grateful to have access to so much unfamiliar material of high quality. The present group represents about half of the volumes issued to date. They can be ordered directly through the [End Page 415] publisher's Web site at "http://www.vansambeekedities.nl/" (accessed 25 August 2010).
These are fully critical editions. The editing seems to be highly accurate and thorough. I detect very few self-evident misprints, though it has not been practical to check all the sources. The pages are uniformly oblong (like the original editions), the design is spacious, the printing is clear and legible, and the page breaks are well planned to minimize difficult turns. The paper is strong, but the pages are glued to the spine rather than sewn, which makes them vulnerable in the long term.
The critical notes, in English and Dutch, include lists of emendations and of variants between sources. For each piece, Van Sambeek identifies one published edition as his main source and, if there are others, lists them as "sources serving as addition to and clarification of the main source." This is generally a sound practice. However, he does not always explain the grounds on which the main source has been selected, or its likely relationship to the others. A conjectural date of publication is given in each case, but not the full reasoning behind it (in one case it is slightly inaccurate). The editor provides little or no biographical or historical information about the composers or the selected pieces, perhaps assuming that it is readily available online.
One recurring problem in editing piano music of this period concerns the distribution of the music between the hands. The general practice at the time was to spread the music freely over the two staves, and leave it to the player to work out which hand would play what, though some editions included fingering, meaningful stemming, and other directions. Modern practice favors consistently using the upper stave for the right hand and the lower for the left, with clef changes and rests wherever needed. On the whole, Van...