Une Larme (A Tear)

Cover photograph
See larger image
Price £8.50

A beautiful and poignant lament which is ideally suited to the double bass. Originally for cello, this new edition returns to the cello version [Theme & Variations] adding an extended (but optional) piano introduction, and demonstrates the dark and soulful colours of the solo double bass. Long flowing phrases allow the intermediate bassist to demonstrate both musical and technical accomplishment in an accessible range of the instrument. The soulful and wistful melody transcribes beautifully for double bass allowing the instrument to display its bel canto and lyrical capabilities.

A three bar section towards the end of the piece is playable as written or an ocatve higher, giving bassists the opportunity to play high harmonics within a beautiful and evocative melody.

This is an ideal study or recital work with its supportive and pulsing accompaniment and has been one of Recital Music's bestsellers since it was published.

Une Larme is also available for solo double bass and string orchestra accompaniment - please contact the publishers for further details.

Grade 7 - Trinity-Guildhall / ABRSM / LCM / MTB Exams (www.mtbexams.com)

Performance Level: 7

"Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) is one of the most fascinating of all 19th-century composers and, at the age of 38 and after the production of his opera Guillaume Tell (William Tell), he retired. By this time he had already composed 39 operas, alongside much vocal and instrumental music, and although his 'retirement' lasted for almost forty years he was far from idle and continued to compose, but mainly for his own pleasure and amusement. These works were known as his 'Peches de viellesse' (Sins of Old Age) and consist of many works for piano alongside music for voice and various chamber ensembles, often performed at the musical soirees in 19th-century Paris. Une Larme, subtitled 'Tema e variazione per violoncello e pianoforte' is found in volume 9, composed in 1858, has become a firm favourite with cellists to the present day. The theme is sad and wistful followed by a range of variations with different characters and moods to demonstrate the lyrical and technical potential of the cello. Une Larme translates as 'a tear'. In the 1970s a manuscript came to light which intrigued bassists, especially as this was a work for double bass by one of the most famous Italian opera composers of the 19th-century. 'Une Larme pour basse' was a short piece and with the same title as the cello variations but seemingly written for 'basse'. What a find! It was published in 1980 by G. Zanibon in Italy, edited by Giorgio Scala, and the bass world took the piece to its heart. The published edition had to make some changes so that it worked on the modern double bass by using a mixture of solo and orchestral tuning, or playing it in the original key of A minor/major and in orchestral tuning. It always struck me as quite strange that someone as successful as Rossini, who would have known how to write idiomatically for an instrument, even taking into account the various double bass tunings at the time, had written a piece for double bass which didn't quite fit an instrument of his day or ours. I felt there was something wrong here, but what? Little by little I came to the conclusion that Rossini had used the term 'pour basse' in the same way that many old editions of string quartets were published for 2 violins, alto et basse, which surely implied cello rather than double bass. Admittedly Rossini had written his string sonatas to include 'contrabasso' and used that termination for these early works, but did the mid 19th-century French musical establishment possibly used both 'violoncello' and 'basse' to mean the same thing? This still wasn't enough to convince me that the shorter version of Une Larme was for cello and not double bass. The thing that really persuaded me was the choice of keys used by Rossini, alongside the three and four-part chords in the solo part. The double bass edition is inventive in the way that it was adapted for the modern four-string double bass, tuned in fourths, but when you imagine that the key of A minor and A major favour an instrument with a top string tuned to A and that the chords can easily be played by an instrument tuned in fifths, my suspicions were confirmed. The two versions of Une Larme use the same theme but in different ways. Which came first? Did Rossini write the theme and then decide to develop it as a longer work for cello or piano, or did someone ask him to write a short piece for cello and piano and he recycled a work he had written before? This was a trick he used in his opera overtures many times, often using music from other operas and, 'The Barber of Seville', his most famous opera, has an overture which contains music from two other operas but contains no themes from the actual opera itself. Rossini wasn't the first or last composer to recycle... There are a number of small differences between the two versions of the piece, but they are essentially the same piece. The theme from the longer Theme & Variations for cello and piano is in 12/8 time and with addition of a dramatic 14 bar piano introduction - the operatic showman to the end. The version 'pour basse' has only two beats of piano introduction and is in 4/4 time, but using triplets in the accompaniment which effectively creates 12/8 for the piano and 4/4 for the double bass. Which was first? It's unlikely we will ever know and nor does it matter, but I am convinced that both versions are for cello and not 'basse'. Une Larme is a lyrical, poignant and charming piece which, when transposed into G minor, works beautifully for the double bass and is a great addition to the transcription repertoire. Lasting only a few minutes, the master composer has created a mini-opera which has a great story to tell and offers effective musical challenges for the bassist. A successful transcription for bassists and audiences alike." David Heyes [21 June 2016]

Syllabus info
Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music: Bowed Strings Syllabus 2016-2019   (until Dec 2019)  

Double Bass - grade 7

Trinity College London: Bowed Strings & Harp 2016-2019   (until Dec 2019)  

Double Bass - grade 7

Samples available

Adobe PDF File

Get Adobe Reader

Cat No. RM303
Price £8.50
ComposerGioacchino Rossini
EditorDavid Heyes
CategoryDouble Bass & Piano
Difficulty level7
ISMN 979-0-57045-303-0
EAN-13 9790570453030
Weight 74 grams
Published 3rd November 2008
Availability 14 in stock
See also...
RM015  Romance de L'Elisir d'Amore
RM703  Concert Solo (Air in C)