Weiss, Silvius Leopold. Balletto. Edited by Mario Gangi. Ancona, Italy: Bérben, 1960.
Weiss, Silvius Leopold. "Ballet" in Ouverture et Ballet pour guitare "baroque" avec tablatures 1674. Edited by Rafael Andia. Paris: Éditions Musicales Transatlantiques, 1982.
Timing: 3' 30"
This charming piece was composed under the name of the Silvius Leopold Weiss (1686-1750), a lutenist-composer and contemporary of Bach. The date of composition is unknown; however, this piece is probably contemporary with Ponce's other pastiches composed in Paris between 1925 and 1932.
Gangi published this work as a "transcription" of Baroque lute tablature. Moreover, the musical text of the Gangi edition is identical to the Segovia recording of this work (Decca DL 9633). It is likely that this edition, like most of the other bootlegged Ponce pastiches, is a transcription of the Segovia recording.
Andia's musical text is significantly different from the Segovia recording in harmony and melody, perhaps to give it the appearance of an original transcription. In any case, Andia's choice of title--Ouverture et Ballet pour guitare "baroque" avec tablatures 1674--is curious since Weiss was born in 1686 and is not known to have composed for the Baroque guitar.
The Balletto utilizes a tripartite structure, A B A, similar to an eighteenth-century da capo aria. The A B A form is cast in a tonal scheme of tonic, submediant and tonic (C-sharp minor, A major and C-sharp minor) respectively. The Baroque illusion is further strengthened by Ponce's well crafted style gallant melodies, broken chord patterns suggestive of style brisé, progressions derived from the circle of fifths and a strong polarity between the bass and soprano:
Ex. 1. Balletto, m. 1-3
In contrast to the A section, the B section is suggestive of folk music: the open A string is used as a pedal throughout, only I V7 or I viio harmonies are used, and the phrases are short, repetitive and symmetrical:
Ex. 2, Balletto, m. 19-20
The use of a fermata on the last note of each phrase and a two measure transition before the repeat of the A section, marked piú lento, introduce elements of a distinctly non-Baroque character. Other inauthentic elements, common to most of Ponce's pastiches, are a lack of ornamentation and the idiomatic nature of this piece on the guitar. Whereas the Baroque lute has thirteen courses of strings and the guitar only six, true transcriptions of works by Weiss involve many musical and technical compromises resulting in awkward fingerings and displaced bass lines.
Weiss, Silvius Leopold. Prélude in E. Edited by Carl Van Feggelen. Toronto: Berandol, 1969.
Weiss, Silvius Leopold. "Ouverture" in Ouverture et Ballet pour guitare "baroque" avec tablatures 1674. Edited by Rafael Andia. Paris: Éditions Musicales Transatlantiques, 1982.
Variant: Ponce, Manuel M. Preludio for Guitar and Harpsichord. Unpublished, 1926.
Timing: 2' 30"
This work was also written under the name of Silvius Leopold Weiss. Although the date of composition is not known, Ponce wrote the variant for guitar and harpsichord in Paris in 1926.5 Years later, Segovia and Rafael Puyana recorded the variant as a Ponce arrangement of a Weiss work (MCA-2526). Ironically, much of the initial interest in the lute music of Weiss is due to the popularity of this work and the Suite en la mineur.
If Segovia's recording is considered an authoritative source, the Van Feggelen transcription contains numerous errors such as missing measures and incorrect rhythms. Although the Andia edition uses the title Ouverture rather than Preludio, the musical text is close to Segovia's recording.
Ponce masterfully employs Baroque techniques--spinning out melodic lines, sequence, imitation, style brisé, and pedal tones--in a neoclassical manner. Thus, this work uses techniques and forms of the Baroque as a point of departure rather than a means of mimicry--herein may lie its popularity over Ponce's other pastiches. While there are no tempo indications in the Van Feggelen edition, most guitarists perform this piece at a brisk allegro.
This work is in ritornello form, and begins with the first phrase of the ritornello over a tonic pedal:
Ex. 3. Preludio, m. 1-4. Beginning of ritornello
The ensuing episodes are based on motives from the ritornello which are mainly manipulated by means of sequence:
Ex. 4. Preludio, m. 22-24
Ponce's Hispanic background is evident in a number of striking alternations between 6/8 and 3/4 meter. For example, prior to the final statement of the ritornello theme, a passage of triplets in 3/4 meter is heard:
Ex. 5. Preludio, m. 73-75
The Preludio is one of Ponce's most popular works and, even if Segovia's estate releases the manuscript for publication under Ponce's name, it will probably continue to be known as Ponce's "Secret Weiss."
5Corazón Otero, Manuel M. Ponce and the Guitar (London: Musical New Services, 1983), p. 55-57. The version for guitar and harpsichord has been recorded by Segovia on MCA-2526.
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