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Arrangements and transcriptions

commissioned by the Schubert Ensemble


Martin Butler Two Scarlatti Sonatas 

Arranged for violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano

7 minutes

Sonata in D K.119

Sonata in E K.215

I've often turned to Scarlatti's keyboard sonatas for inspiration of the 'shot-in-the-arm' variety.  Their brilliant characterisation, energy and simplicity are irresistible and peerless.  These two arrangements are very straightforward: I've simply tried to amplify and 'orchestrate' the music in ways which I felt Scarlatti would have done, had he had the chance.  These include antiphonal exchanges between piano and strings, tweakings of Scarlatti's rhythmic quirks and a modest expansion of the sonatas' registral scope.

© Martin Butler

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David Matthews and Orlando Jopling: Schumann's Canonic Studies

ROBERT SCHUMANN Three Canonic Studies for pedal piano from Op. 56 (1845)

Piano quartet and piano quintet versions available


No. 3 in E (arr. David Matthews)

No. 5 in B minor (arr. David Matthews)

No. 4 in Ab (arr. Orlando Jopling)


Schumann acquired a pedal piano in 1843, and in a burst of enthusiasm wrote three sets of pieces in succession for the instrument. The pedal piano is a regular grand or upright, equipped with a pedalboard. It has remained a rarity on the concert platform and is now used mainly by organists for practice at home. Schumann’s Six Studies in Canonic Form Op.56 are exquisite pieces that are usually heard in arrangements, the most familiar of which are by Debussy for two pianos and by Bizet for piano duet. They were written in 1845, a time when Robert and Clara Schumann were both engaged in studies of counterpoint. These three arrangements by David Matthews and Orlando Jopling use different combinations of the four instruments of the piano quartet for the melodic lines that follow each other in constant imitation. No.4, the last of this selection, has one of Schumann’s loveliest melodies and the character more of a love duet than of a study.


These three arrangements were written for the Schubert Ensemble with the generous support of the Schubert Ensemble Trust.

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David Matthews: Fauré Romance sans Paroles Op.17 No.3

Piano quartet and piano quintet versions available

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Judith Weir El Rey de Francia (1993)

For piano quartet

2 minutes

I once made some transcriptions of Spanish/Arabic folk music for a theatre piece about the Crusades. One of these I found particularly haunting - El Rey de Francia, sung b Sephardic Jews at the time of their exile. I wrote this short arrangement for the Schubert Ensemble, to be played at a 50th birthday concert in honour of our admired friend and colleague, composer David Matthews. 

© Judith Weir

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John Woolrich Five Bach Chorales (1999)

Arranged for violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano

6 minutes

1. Night has Come 

2. Come, Sweet Death!

3. Christ lay in the bonds of death

4. From deep need I cry to thee

5. O gloomy night

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