Reviews

Fontes Artis Musicae, forthcoming

Magazine of the International Association of Music Libraries. Review by Mac Nelson, University of North Carolina, Greensboro. 05_956-95_Reviews_662-672, page 665

Readers interested in the cello and its literature may well be aware of a historical problem—the perceived limitations of the violoncello repertoire—which challenged Henk Lambooij in the early 1970s to begin listing neglected or unknown works for his instrument. By the time Michael Feves brought his computer skills to the enterprise in 1981, Lambooij had already collected a body of titles sufficient to fill four library-sized filing drawers with file cards. Now, many years after Lambooij began jotting titles on scraps of paper, A Cellist’s Companion includes more than 45,000 titles by over 15,000 composers, with information drawn from a wide variety of sources, “ranging from the highly trustworthy to the less substantiated.” It is no doubt safe to say that this admirable catalog has no rivals for comprehensiveness. Happily, it is also easy to praise the Companion as a well-organized and substantial reference work. An introductory section entitled “How to Use this Book” establishes the catalog’s definition of cello literature as works in which the cello plays, in one capacity or another, a solo role. The categories included are works for cello solo, cello and electronics, cello and piano, two or more cellos, cello and other instruments, cello and orchestra (including works with more than one soloist), cello and voice, and methods and studies. Also included are Baroque sonatas that feature the cello as an independent instrument. Chamber music is not included, save that for cello ensemble or that featuring the cello in an obbligato or solo role. Collections “for any bass instrument” are excluded unless the cello is clearly intended as the featured instrument....

...Certainly a most welcome feature of the Companion is the biographical material provided on many of the cellist-composers. Access to such a wealth of information in a single volume will prove invaluable to cello students and their teachers, as well as librarians, collectors, and music trade professionals. Among the brief biographies included, many will be familiar to students of cello history—Anton Kraft, Alfredo Piatti, and Bernard Heinrich Romberg, to name but three. However, readers at all levels will be captivated by the abundant, unexpected details—that Felix Salmond was known as “the man who sang cello,” for example, or that Jacques Offenbach shared a desk with Hippolyte Seligmann in the orchestra of the Opéra comique.

Is there anything lacking in this comprehensive catalog? Very little. As the authors note, a list of abbreviations for publisher places is not included, and not all arrangements/collections are crossreferenced. Readability may also prove an issue, as small print will prompt many to reach for the magnifying glass. And, of course, questions will be asked about how soon the catalog will be made available in searchable database form. However, none of these issues diminishes the immense value of The Cellist’s Companion, which accomplishes with resounding success the authors’ twofold desire to provide cellists “a complete overview of the literature for solo cello” and to give them “a trusted friend, a guide and a mentor.”

MCO NieuwZ, December 2006

Review by Jan Jaap Kassies.

Notes, September 2009

Excerpts from a review by Stephen Mantz, University of Colorado at Boulder.

In A Cellist’s Companion we have a reminder that the concept of data mining is not new, only the techniques have changed. For more than thirty-five years, the authors searched “every possible source” in an effort to find every composition ever written for violoncello. Published editions are their core resource, but Lambooij and Feves have also consulted many kinds of secondary resources, both scholarly and ephemeral: reference works, biographies, reviews, catalogs, Web sites, concert programs, announcements, auction notices, correspondence, record and compact disc covers, and many more. The result is a bibliography of over 44,500 titles by some 15,000 composers and arrangers. It is a remarkable survey, a true celebration of violoncello literature by two accomplished cellists. The reference book includes arrangements and original compositions, published works in print and out of print, works that are lost, and manuscripts. It is arranged alphabetically by the last name of the composer or arranger, augmented by a classified index at the back of the book that provides access by medium of performance: cello solo, cello with electronics, two or more cellos, cello and violin, cello and other instruments, two or more soloists, cello and voice, and methods and studies. Not included in the index are works for cello and piano and for cello and orchestra, “because practically every composer wrote for these combinations” (p. 657). This seems to be a concession to saving space....

...Each name entry includes the date and place of birth (and death, where appropriate). Cellist-composer entries may also include a short biographical paragraph. Under each name entry are the titles, arranged first by opus or thematic catalog number, then alphabetically for those works without such numbering. Each entry may include the work’s key, instrumentation, year of composition, duration, and the name of the person to whom it was dedicated (if any). Publication information follows for as many editions as are known: place, date, publisher, and publisher number. If the publication information is not known, or the work is not published, the authors provide the source of information or the library where the title can be located. Occasionally, one will see titles without a source; these usually include the notation “not verified.”

Much of the information in entries is conveyed through abbreviations, a necessity in a print volume of this size. All the abbreviations, however, can discourage readers until they become familiar with the structure of the entries. The small font used in typesetting only reinforces the feeling of a “dense” text. Sample pages can be viewed at the publisher’s Web site (http://www .cellocompanion.com [accessed 28 May 2009]).

A nice feature of A Cellist’s Companion is that it includes collections of violoncello music, so the text can also be used as a finding aid for these works. Unfortunately, not all of the collections included are cross-referenced. Another noteworthy feature is the inclusion of arrangements. Many guides to repertoire concentrate solely on original compositions written for the specified instrument. That is not the case here, where arrangements occupy an equal footing alongside original compositions. Arrangements are entered in two places. A brief entry appears under the title for the original work, followed by the term “arrangements,” the name of the arranger and a short title of the arrangement. The full entry appears under the name of the arranger, with a reference back to the composer entry....

...A Cellist’s Companion is a triumph of perseverance, attention to detail and love for the violoncello. The publication, produced from the authors’ database, may well be best served by being made available in that format, and this option will be even more compelling if subsequent enlarged editions are produced. Such comprehensive print works are, by their very nature, outdated by the time they are published, whereas a database offers the opportunity for continual updating.

...the book is a useful tool for cellists and researchers. It collocates a great deal of data, providing a unique survey of the violoncello literature. This work should be viewed not as a final achievement, but as a remarkable foundation upon which others can continue to build.

Das Orchester, July/August 2008

Review by Bernard Helpenstein

http://www.dasorchester.de/de_DE/journal/issues/showarticle,26212.html

Orkester-forum UNOF (Norway), nr. 2, 2008 (18. årgang)

Review by Terje Winther.

UNOF-A4.pdf

The Strad, April 2008

Review by Jeffrey Solow.

Strings Magazine, August 2008

Review by Graham Pellettieri.

http://www.stringsmagazine.com/article/?articleid=23947

Die Tonkunst, Nr. 3, July 2008 (Jg. 2)

Review by Christiane Wiesenfeldt.