SONATA NO. 3
By Heidi Radtke
As we come to the close of another solo and ensemble contest season, it seems very timely to focus attention on Dave Camwell’s recently published arrangement of Handel’s Sonata in F (HWV 370). While many saxophonists and pedagogues are likely familiar with Sigurd Rascher’s edition of this work, Camwell’s arrangement provides further insight and resources for its study and performance.
In the preface to the sonata, Camwell includes background information on the history of the composition as well as brief explanations on the interpretation and execution of the various ornamental figures (see the example below). The edition also includes stylistically-accurate articulation markings, optional ornamentation, and numerous ossia passages that provide the performer with countless opportunities for expression.
In a change from the Rascher edition, which discontinued the suggested articulation markings after the first few instances, Camwell includes markings throughout each movement. The inclusion of these markings will hopefully correct the misinterpretation made by players of following the initial articulations and then proceeding to tongue each note for the remainder of the piece. The tempos for each movement provide a generous range of options allowing for flexibility and individual interpretation, while still maintaining a stylistically appropriate flow. Camwell has also altered the time signature of the fourth movement from 4/4 to 12/8 to more accurately facilitate the rhythms of the gigue.
Saxophonists of all levels of ability will find this edition to be an extremely satisfying study. While the added ossia passages and suggested ornamentations allow for flexible and varied performances of this work, Camwell notes that it should not be assumed that the execution of all the given figures are mandatory or expected. Indeed, many breathtaking renditions of this work have been recorded using little to no additional ornamentation. The intent of the ossia passages should be to inspire and encourage players to add spontaneity to their practice and performance.
When discussing the piece Camwell explained:
The whole idea is for performers to do some, all, a few, or indeed more ornaments than shown in the score. Ornaments are somewhat personal. It’s like improvising to a jazz musician. Every time could, should, would be slightly different.
In addition to being a beautiful and challenging recital piece, Camwell’s arrangement can be utilized as a set of exercises to learn the various turns, mordants, and varieties of trills used in the Baroque composition. It is a piece appropriate for the developing saxophonist as well as the seasoned professional. This edition of Handel’s familiar sonata truly shines new light on a work that has been a mainstay of saxophone study for decades.