A staple of the solo repertoire and popularised by Gary Karr, this cello transcription works brilliantly for double bass demonstrating both the technical and musical possibilities of the instrument. Ideal as an encore, or the final work in a recital, this is a showpiece of the highest order offering much for the performer and audience alike.
Newly edited by David Heyes, an edition with string quartet (or string orchestra) is in preparation. This edition includes accompaniments for both solo and orchestral tunings.
"The name of Daniel van Goens is remembered today primarily for one particular work for cello and piano, although he also composed a wealth of music, which has now become standard repertoire for double bass. Born in Leiden, Netherlands on 3 September 1858 but, because of an outbreak of tuberculosis, the family moved to Montpelier in 1872, the following year to Lausanne and in 1879 to Paris. van Goens studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Léon Jacquard (cello) and Albert Lavignac (composition) graduating with the highest distinction in 1883. His first works were published in 1885 and he composed many works for his own instrument, also published in versions for violin, but only the 'Scherzo' has survived into the repertoire today. He married the pianist Germaine Polack and they toured together but van Goens's health was always weak and the concerts had to be ended prematurely, which did allow him time for composition, but he died on 10 May 1904 in Fontainbleau (France) at the age of 38. During his short life Daniel van Goens composed over 40 works, mainly published in Paris by J.Hamelle and, on the whole he was drawn towards composing shorter characteristic works, although many of the pieces for cello and piano also exist with orchestral accompaniment. The 'Scherzo' is the second piece of his Op.12 and dates from the early years of the 1890s was and first published in Paris in 1895 as 'Deux Morceaux' for cello and piano, subsequently published in America in 1913 by M. Witmark & Sons (New York). The piece transcribes well for the double bass, down a tone from the original, and is in ternary form with the link from A to B as sudden and unexpected as Winter following Summer. The first section is a fast and virtuosic moto perpetuo figure, marked 'Vivace molto e con spirito', with an interesting accompaniment which veers from light and quirky, to melodramatic and chordal, employing a wide register but always supporting and contrasting the solo line. This music ends after ascending into the heights with a perfect cadence played pizzicato, and then moves abruptly into a more lyrical and cantabile section, marked 'Cantando' and with a more relaxed and sonorous approach, but which has no relationship to the first section. The music now ebbs and flows in a late-romantic style, before a 20 bar bridging passage of the moto perpetuo music returns leading back into an exact repetition of the opening music. The piece is fast, lively, fun, light-hearted and great for the player and an audience. Without plumbing any musical or emotional depths, this is still an exciting piece and deserves its place in our solo repertoire. I created an edition of the 'Scherzo' for Recital Music in 2001 for both solo and orchestral tuning, having played the piece since my teens, and have plans to create a new version for massed basses and Lucas Drew produced an edition for Belwin-Mills in the early 1980s. The piece was popularised by the great Gary Karr, often as an encore, and his brilliant performances and sense of fun add to the enjoyment of the performance. I once heard it played by a cellist and although it was note perfect and a beautiful performance, it lacked the showmanship and visual excitement when played on the double bass. The piece is probably 125 years old now but it is still popular amongst bassists and rightly so - it's a great piece to enthuse and engage an audience." [David Heyes / 22 may 2017]