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[1813 - 1888]

La saltarella (1868)

arranged by Mark Starr for string orchestra with optional percussion
from Alkan's work for pianoforte 4-hands

link to biography of Charles-Valentin Alkan

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The full score of this arrangement for string orchestra (with optional percussion) is available for perusal, audition, purchase, downloading and printing on the website www.sibeliusmusiccom.  To jump to an online display of the sheet music, please click on the following link:

link to display of full score of Mark Starr's arrangement for string orchestra with optional percussion on www.sibeliusmusic.com

To display this score on your computer screen -- while listening to a synchronized MIDI performance of the music -- one must first download Sibelius' web music viewer, called
Scorch.  Scorch is available free-of-charge on the sibeliusmusic.com website. (Just click on the website's green button marked Get Scorch)

La saltarella (or il saltarello)

link to article on history of il saltarello on Wikipedia

This is an arrangement by Mark Starr of Charles-Valentin Alkan's La Saltarella, for string orchestra.  La Saltarella is virtuoso work, originally composed by Alkan circa 1868.  It was published by Edition Richault in two versions: for cello and piano, and for piano 4-hands. It is the latter version that served as the source for my two orchestrations of this piece.  One of my orchestrations is for full orchestra.  The other, the present score,  is for string orchestra with optional percussion.

The orchestra (both the full orchestra and the string orchestra) is an ideal medium for this exhuberant music. This arrangement for string orchestra is intended as a dazzling showpiece for professional chamber orchestras. Due to historical vicissitudes that are described in detail in my prefatory essay, La Saltarella (in its original forms) has lain virtually unperformed for 14 decades. It is my hope that, in its new orchestral garb, this exhilharating work may now become accessible to modern day concert audiences, in either version.

The saltarello is a Neopolitan dance close related to the Sicilian tarantella. The tarantella got its name from the frenetic spasms produced from the bite of a tarantula. Traditionally the tarantella is a dance of death.

The word saltarello means 'little hop.'  Despite its diminutive name, the saltarello also a frenetic dance in a minor key, characterized by fast-moving triplets and dotted rhythms. The principal difference between the two is the syncopated rhythm of the saltarello. As in  jazz, the offbeats of the saltarello are emphasized over the main beats.  As depicted in the 19th Century Italian print above, the saltarello can be danced by two women.

Alkan's colossal saltarello dispenses so much energy over so great a length of time, the imaginary dancers figuratively dance themselves to death in the whirlwind coda.