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Serenade - Jindřich Kàan

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H. de Kaan - Serenade (Excerpt)

H. de Kaan - Serenade - Full Piece Recording 

Composer: Jindřich Kàan (aka Henri de Kaan) (1852-1926)

 

Kàan was a piano virtuoso and composer.  Czech wikipedia says he was Czech.  He was born in what's now Ukraine to a Hungarian nobleman.  The entry quotes Kaan describing himself as "Hungarian by ancestry, Pole by birthplace, German by upbringing and Czech by mindset and music"

 

Also, he has a crap ton of aliases listed in IMSLP:

 

Alternative Names/Transliterations: Jindřich z Albestů Kàan, Henri de Kàan, Albert Kaan, Chiara Spanio

 

Name in Other Languages: Jindřich Káan z Albestů, Каан фон Альбест, Индржих, Jindřich Kaan von Albest, Індржых Каан фон Альбест, Їндржих Каан, Jindřich Kàan z Albestů, Jindrich Kaan von Albest

 

Aliases: Káan, Jindřich z Káanů, Henri de Kàan, Heinrich von Kàan, Henri de Kaan, Индржих Каан фон Альбест, И́ндржих Ка́ан фон А́льбест, І́ндржых Ка́ан фон А́льбест


He's "Henri de Kaan" on score I found, which is why i used it in the album art.  

Date:  circa 1910-1920?

Original Instrumentation: 4 cellos

 

Why this one:

 

Four cellos?  Yes, please.

Description:  

Key: C

Time:   6/8  BPM=Eighth 200

4/4 BPM=100

 

This Serenade is in two parts, with the first in 6/8 triple meter and the second in 4/4.  

 

There's a lot of harmonic motion in this piece.  Part 1 starts starts with all for instruments sketching out chords; there's no really strong melodic line here.  It starts as a fairly standard I-V-I-vi in C major before modulating to F major.  It transitions back to C major via what sounds to me like a Db diminished chord to G to C.    

 

The opening repeats again, but instead of going to the vi (Am), it modulates to Ab major now and really emphasizing the IV-ii (Db to Bbm) before transitioning back to C via an Ab-G motion.  

It stays in C until the switch to the 4/4 Part 2 at 0:45.  In part 1, the key center shifts use half-step leading as transitions.  The first transition to F being lead from E (root of the Em) to F, the second being Ab (b5 of the D diminished) to G, and the final transition back to C via another Ab (this time root of Ab chord) to G.

 

Part 2 has a more defined melodic hook in the Cello 1 (panned hard left) with Cellos 3 and 4 sketching out harmony with double stops and Cello 2 straight up playing four note chords.  This part doesn't have as much obvious key center shifting as the first, with almost all of the chords being diatonic (in key) with the home key of C.  There's one surprising non-diatonic B major at 0:59 that seems to be a transitional chord but I can't quite wrap my head around where it ends up, though the following section feels like it's in minor, hanging for a long time on a D minor and then hitting B diminished a few times.

 

After this is resets back firmly in C before a kind of odd section where it seems to be alternating between and Eb diminished chord and a G major while the solo cello 1 holds a very high G.  Then the coda starts at 2:11 and closes the piece out in C.

 

Overall it's really harmonically interesting, if a bit bewildering (to me).  There's key center modulations, voice leadings, lots of diminished chords etc.

.

Performance:

 

This was an LMP Express piece.  (I did it all in the same session, so I didn't record a part, and then go home and practice the next part over the first etc).  This one was interesting, because the support parts, Cello 2, 3, and 4, really don't sound like much by themselves so it really wasn't until I put third part on that it started to sound legible.  

 

I started with the Cello 2 which has the quarter note chords throughout the 4/4 section.  It wasn't all that difficult but there were a couple of long stretches where it wasn't playing, so I had to count really carefully.  I had to restart twice when I finished the 6/8 section a measure or two early.  

 

Cello 4 and 3 were next, and were pretty easy, though Cello 4 has some really long octave stretches in the left hand.  (Would have been a piece of cake on a mandolin).

 

Cello 1, with the melody really high up on the neck and switching to treble clef several time was easily the trickiest.  It required a lot of work to determine the best way to play it, especially since I don't ready treble clef very well on the cello, but I played it pretty well.  I actually didn't need to even touch up the two really difficult sections.  (I was really prepared).

Errata:

A lot of Cello 2 (the one playing the chords when the meter switches to 4) is pizzicato in the score.  (i.e. plucking rather than bowing).  I can't make that distinction on my mandocello so I just played the same as the rest of the piece.  

I would imagine this section is *really* difficult on an actual cello, as the cello is both larger and fretless.

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