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violin and cello duets Archives - Fedora Strings Sheet Music for Sale

Bringing Opera to Life on the Cello

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The opera arias I have recently arranged for cello duet have been a pleasure to write https://www.sjmusicpublications.co.uk/sheet-music/composers.cfm/product/borrett-opera-arias
Looking at the number of instruments in a Puccini score was awe inspiring.Did Puccini immediately hear the music like this in his head or add the orchestration later? According to a friend of mine – an expert orchestrator – it was probably the former.

Overall objective
My aim with the cello duets was to ensure the tune was always clear and then try to capture the overall mood in the accompanying part, often by using cellistic special effects. In my teens I spent ages listening to recordings of great singers – and I loved the beauty of their phrasing, their rubato and the drama of it all. It’s rare to hear string music as expressively phrased as singing often is, but isn’t it worth aspiring to?

What’s Wrong with Pachelbel Canon?

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Pachelbel Canon must be the easiest orchestral piece in the world for cellists to memorise – with its 28 repetitions of the 8 note bass line. Despite the numerous cellist jokes about this work (see below) I have always enjoyed playing it. It’s fairly short, the harmonies are beautiful and if you respond to what the other players are doing it becomes more fun.

So what is a canon?
For me canons, passacaglias and chaconnes are extremely effective musical forms where the repeated harmonies create a tautness and sense of inevitability that can be inspiring. Some of my favourite music in this form is: Purcell’s Chaconne in G minor, Vitali’s Chaconne,  Britten’s Passacaglia from Peter Grimes and Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, played superbly  below by Heifetz:

And why is Pachelbel’s so popular?
Pachelbel’s Canon major key and has a calm confidence that has probably helped to make it so well liked…

Our new arrangement of Tambourin by the revolutionary Gossec

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The latest string duet arrangement we are selling is Tambourin by Francois Joseph Gossec. Gossec was born in 1734 and became the favourite composer of Revolutionary France. Today he is most famous for Tambourin – a delightful piece which lifts the spirit, as you can hear in this vibrant flute and harp arrangement:

Our arrangement is fun to play
Tambourin  works brilliantly for violin and cello duet – you can buy the music by clicking here:

The link to the French Revolution
Who would ever guess that such a relaxed tune was written during the French Revolution or that Gossec’s compositions were loved by Robespierre?









Our new string duet arrangement of Bach’s most famous work

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We have just published our violin and cello duet arrangement of Air on a G String – perhaps Bach’s most famous work.
Creating this arrangement
This piece has been a challenge to arrange for string duet. Roger and I both tried writing versions but neither felt quite right, so we abandoned the idea. However, the problems somehow resolved themselves and Roger created the arrangement we are selling now which is beautifully balanced and calm. Click here to buy it on our Music Sales’ page…


…the original orchestral version is  below:


Sensuous sheet music for sale…

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You can now buy our arrangement of Monteverdi’s Chiome d’Oro (Golden Head of Hair) at our violin and cello duet wedding sheet music online shop here:
This lively and vibrant piece is one of Monteverdi’s erotic madrigals and is about the attractions of women and the effect they have on men. Here’s a translation of the opening words: “Golden head of hair, beautiful treasure, you entwine me in a thousand ways, whether bound or loose…”

About the music Our arrangement of Chiome d’Oro has lots of interplay in the parts. As with almost all baroque music, dynamics are not included so feel free to add your own. We have written out some suggested elaborations of the opening repeats and you could certainly do more if you wanted. The overall mood of the music is energising and happy.

About Monteverdi 
Monteverdi was  a successful and famous composer and he became a priest towards the end of his life. In this respect he bears a similarity to  his contemporary, the great English poet John Donne. If their paintings are accurate the two men looked remarkably alike when they were young.

Our latest famous string duet arrangement – Una Furtiva Lagrima

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Our sheet music string duo arrangement of Una Furtiva Lagrima ( A Furtive Tear) is now available. This hauntingly beautiful tune is the most famous aria from Donizetti’s opera L’Elisir D’Amore  ( The Love Potion) and it seems incongrous that it comes from a comic opera as it  completely transcends its context.
The plot of the opera
L’Elisir D’Amore tells the story of a village boy called Nemorino who falls in love with  Adina. To win her affection he buys a ‘love potion’ from a visiting quack doctor – not realising that it only contains wine.
About our arrangement
In our arrangement the cello has the tune for a great deal of the time – reflecting the fact that it is a tenor aria. You can buy our duet of the aria here:

New Violin and Cello Duet Sheet Music – The Lark in the Clear Air

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Our latest sheet music arrangement is one of my favourite folk songs – The Lark in the Clear Air – and this warm-hearted, tender tune is ideal for wedding ceremonies.

The beauty of string sound…
Anyone who has heard The Lark Ascending by Vaughan William will know that the violin is excellent at evoking bird flight, and we have exploited this in the arrangement, which is calm and gentle and shares the tune between both instruments.


the words of the song…
Dear thoughts are in my mind
And my soul soars enchanted
As I hear the sweet lark sing
In the clear air of the day
For a tender beaming smile
To my hope has been granted
And tomorrow she shall hear
All my fond heart would say

…and the beauty of the Irish countryside
For me it’s no surprise that this music originates in Ireland, and when you hear this song it’s easy to imagine walking in the Irish countryside thinking only good things…

New Violin and Cello Duet Sheet Music Coming Soon!

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We’re in the process of editing more of our violin and cello duets to sell in our sheet music shop. The new violin and cello duets will start to be added in around four weeks’ time and are mostly of well known baroque and classical pieces.  But especially excitingly, Jerome Kern’s music is now out of copyright and we can sell our violin and cello duet versions of some of his most popular songs such as Pick Yourself Up, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, I Won’t Dance, Long Ago and Far Away and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. We’ve recorded all of these on our cd Moonlight and Music and they include ricochet bowing, col legno, slides and soaring melodies – many in the cello part.
What was Jerome Kern like?
Jerome Kern was a small, enthusiastic man with a tremendous amount of nervous energy. He studied classical composition in Europe and America and had a more thorough technical and artistic background than many of his colleagues in the same field.
Despite being one of America’s best known composers of light music he was impressively modest and once told an admirer: “The fact that the theatre going public likes my music is no credit to me. There are many other composers who write better music that the public doesn’t like.”
Romance and lyricism
His natural feel for lyricism and his ability to express romantic sentiments with his harmonies made his songs instantly popular, and their lyrics are easy to empathise with.You can buy our versions of his songs here:

Bike Your Way To Better Playing!

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Tomorrow is New Year’s Day – traditionally the  time of new resolutions; and many of those will be to get more exercise. But if you’re a musician regular exercise could have more benefits than you think.
Biking is Best!
A few weeks ago I started biking  on an exercise bike for twenty minutes a day- the first time I have ever done any regular exercise –  and I’ve been delighted to find that it has definitely made the technical side of cello playing easier. Perhaps it should be obvious that a job which involves  intricate co-ordination is likely to be improved by being physically fitter, but it  had never occurred to me, and no teacher or other professional player I have ever met has mentioned this.

Although  other forms of exercise may work well, biking seems to be extra good for enhancing co-ordination. Two years ago I went with a friend who has early stage Parkinson’s to a small spa town in Northern Italy where they have developed an exercise programme which can dramatically improve Parkinson’s symptoms; they have discovered that just fifteen minutes biking every day  is especially effective.
Alexander Technique
It’s easy to focus on the artistic and perfectionist sides of playing an instrument and forget that – if you step back a bit emotionally –  the cello and piano are large instruments that need quite a lot of physical grappling to get around with ease. Alexander Technique  can be very helpful in teaching optimum use of the muscles of the body and encouraging relaxation, but if you find things easier generally you are probably less likely to tense up or over use your muscles om the first place.
I don’t write as an expert in this area, I’m simply passing on my own experience; but it’s been so positive  that I am likely to stick to this particular non New Year’s Resolution, even if I don’t stick to any others.


When arrangements are better than originals

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Can arrangements ever be better than the originals? The answer is undoubtedly yes;either because a performance is so outstanding or because the piece of music is just as effective with a different instrumentation. Jascha Heifetz’s violin versions of Deep River and White Christmas and Phillip McCann’s cornet playing in Count Your Blessings and Softly Awakes My Heart are just two performers whose interpretations are so expressive that the words of original songs are superfluous.
Softly Awakes My Heart aria from the opera Samson and Delilah by Saint Saens

Borodin’s Polovstian Dances sounds better in an orchestral version than with the original chorus, Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise works beautifully on the cello rather than sung; and Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 8 and Britten’s Simple Symphony both sound as good in their string orchestral versions as they do in quartet format, and were arranged by their respective composers.

However good the piece of music or the arrangement though, it needs vibrant interpretation to fully realise its potential. Here’s what Robert Donington has to say in his book A Performer’s Guide to Baroque Music: “ The baroque ideal was to depend on the individuality of the performer to fill out the implications of a sketchily notated text. Whoever took on the performance, whether he were the composer or not, took on responsibility not only for virtually the whole of the expression, but even for many of the notes.”

No pressure on the performer then….Most modern classical players would feel daunted at the thought that improvising was an essential part of their performance, but  this approach certainly encourages a healthy sense of  imaginative freedom.