Early music for viola da gamba, viols, keyboard, and voice in performance editions.

Reviews and Praise

Robert Oliver, contributor, Chelys Australis: Australian Viola da Gamba Society Journal, Volume 9, 2010, page 33, "Reviews"

Bach, J.S. Chorale-based works transcribed for two viols and keyboard Volume 1, edited Daniel Rippe (Baltimore: Ripmeister Publications) (RIP-3)

A hearty welcome to this series. Volume 1 has five chorale preludes for organ arranged for two viols, either tenor and bass, or two basses and keyboard. The arrangements are faithful to the originals, and any changes are fully documented. For example Schmücke dich is put down a semitone into D major to make it sit nicely for the viols, which play the organ figuration while the keyboard plays the bass line and the chorale tune. The arranger doesn't always follow this pattern, with chorale tunes allowed to migrate — Jesu meine Freude starts in the tenor viol (or bass viol playing up to high E flat), then the keyboard right hand takes over for the second half with the figuration in the two viol parts. In Erschienen ist der herrliche Tag from the Orgelbüchlein the theme in canon is taken by the viols for the first half, and by the keyboard for the second. The other two chorales are Vater unser in Himmelreich and Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ.

Transcribing these chorale-based works in this way is an excellent idea, and gives players a chance to experience the genius of Bach without making the technical demands that, for example, the gamba sonatas make (although a degree of fluency is needed). There are no chords, and if the upper part is played on a bass, the player needs to be comfortable above the frets. I suspect, indeed recommend, that tenor players will really enjoy playing this music. Last but not least, it is very well presented on good quality paper, clearly printed and laid out. There is a score for the keyboard player, and two copies of the viol parts, showing each part but not the keyboard part. There is an unavoidable page turn in Schmücke dich. The other chorale preludes fit comfortably into a single opening. For those who like to know what the original was like, there is an excellent preface.

Players with little background knowledge will gain much from the editor's explanations, while those who do have the knowledge will be reassured by them. I haven't seen the second volume of the series, which has more chromatic pieces and is apparently more demanding technically, but on the basis of this one, it would be well worth having.

Robert Oliver, contributor, Chelys Australis: Australian Viola da Gamba Society Journal, Volume 9, 2010, page 57, "Reviews"

The vocal viol: Duos for bass viols from Baroque vocal repertoire edited Daniel Rippe (Baltimore: Ripmeister Publications) (RIP-10)

Most of what was said about the Ripmeister Chorale-based works volume (see above) can simply be repeated here — this is an excellent idea, well executed in every respect, and a publication well worth having. This volume includes five vocal pieces arranged for two bass viols without keyboard, in a wide variety of styles, from the early seventeenth century (Caccini and Merula) to Purcell, Bannister and Handel. Both bass viol players need to be more advanced than either of the players of the Bach volume. In all the songs/arias they share the melodic material and the accompaniment, sometimes chordal, requiring a degree of agility and fluency demanded by, for example, Hume, or easier Marais. None of the pieces goes particularly high. The preface gives the words of each piece, which makes some sense of the quite elaborate slurring, which isn't particularly characteristic of viol music (until you start playing the music of the Berlin School) but which makes a good exercise nonetheless. It offers an opportunity for viol players to explore, and learn from, a repertoire very suitable for their instruments, but outside their normal experience. The choice is interesting, and the music is fabulous. Players will love playing it, the chords give a lovely sonority, and there is nothing quite like two bass viols for sheer hedonistic enjoyment of rich but never cloying resonance. The excellent preface gives fairly full details of each piece. One slight mistake: Odi, Euterpe is stated as being from Caccini's 1614 publication, in fact it's from his 1602 book, but that makes no difference to the value of the book to all players.

[Note from the publisher: Thanks to Mr. Oliver, the citation for Caccini's Odi, Euterpe has been corrected.]

Patrice Connelly, contributor, Chelys Australis: Australian Viola da Gamba Society Journal, Volume 9, 2010, page 35, "Reviews"

Couperin, Louis. Music for viols from the Bauyn manuscript, edited Daniel Rippe (Baltimore: Ripmeister Publications, 2003) (RIP-2)

This edition of Louis Couperin's pieces from the Bauyn manuscript is welcome, particularly to those to whom the early French repertoire is of interest. Louis was a viol player at the royal court as well as a composer for harpsichord and organ. There is no clear date of composition, or even compilation of the manuscript but, as Louis Couperin died in 1666, a date within the 1640s or 1650s is likely. While the source contains keyboard music, there are two pieces, Fantaisie pour les violes, and Fantaisie de violes, that clearly indicate the composer's intention. Rippe has added seven more items from the source that are suitable for viols too. All of this music is in two parts, and can be played by treble and bass viols, or two bass viols with the top line reading down an octave. Performance on violin and cello is also possible, or with high instrument and basso continuo.

The editorial method makes clear that this edition is faithful to the keyboard original, with few changes. Where figures were in the originals, these have been included. A separate turnover page makes the Duo par Mr. Couperin much easier to complete. Only the last piece is in three parts, suitable for TrTB viols. The technical standard varies from intermediate to advanced. The edition is presented as two scores.

Patrice Connelly, contributor, Chelys Australis: Australian Viola da Gamba Society Journal, Volume 9, 2010, pages 46–47, "Reviews"

Rippe, Daniel. Three tune settings for solo bass viol (Baltimore: Ripmeister Publications, 2002) (RIP-1)

Three tune settings for solo bass viol contains pieces from a 1567 German psalter, Thomas Tallis, and Robert Jones. The original tune is given on the left hand page, while the bass viol setting is on the right. Texts are given in full, and there are helpful hints on performance issues, as Rippe employs a few less common techniques in these pieces. These include harmonics, left-hand plucking, as well as ornaments with which we are more familiar, such as the pincé from Marais, or trills. The Tallis piece is intended to be plucked or strummed throughout, while the setting of the Jones Farewell dear love begins plucked, and ends with a bowed section.

The pieces are written for a seven string bass viol, but the composer indicates that a six-string instrument may be used, and lower notes omitted. Rippe notes that setting hymn tunes was an important tradition in music history, and these pieces arose from a need on particular occasions. The first piece, O darkest woe, was written for performance on Good Friday. The Tallis setting is the theme used by Vaughan Williams in his Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis.

Simply presented, saddle stitched into card covers, this eight-page edition is a welcome addition to the modern repertoire for solo bass viol. The notes section is particularly helpful in supplying a context as well as illuminating the composer's intentions, and the inclusion of the original vocal setting with texts makes interpretation of these pieces easier, and also allows for the use of a vocalist in performance, thereby creatively increasing the options available.

Richard J. Milner, president of the Australian Viola da Gamba Society, and editor, Newsletter of the Australian Viola da Gamba Society), October 2009, No. 38, "Viols on the Web"

There are an increasing number of semi-commercial sites offering interesting music arranged for viols for sale. These are often hard to find and I was delighted to recently discover RipMeister Publications. This is the work of Daniel Rippe who is also a very fine viol player (see his CD [by soloist Ann Marie Morgan] FORQUERAY, A.: Suite No. 1 in D minor / BALTZAR, T.: Divisions on a Ground in G major / LAWES, H.: Among Rosebuds, Centaur CRC2685, see www.classicsonline.com for sound excerpts and purchase). The music is very well presented with excellent prefaces. His catalogue is small but most interesting: [Here the author has reprinted the current RipMeister Catalog webpage.]

[Note from the publisher: In addition to arrangements for viols, RipMeister also offers modern urtext editions of music by original composers (period and contemporary).]

Marc Strümper, editor, Newsletter of the Viola da gamba - Gesellschaft (Viola da Gamba Society of Switzerland), December 2005, No. 60, page 17, "New Music Publications"

Daniel Rippe is another practicing musician who has taken it upon himself to publish musical works, which he would gladly own himself, in modern editions, in a small publishing house. According to his report [mission statement], these include new compositions, period music that is out of print or difficult to find and adaptations of existing works in the style of the appropriate period. At present three editions are available, however, future ones are already announced in the publisher's catalog.

At this time, the first work from this publisher is "Three Tune Settings for Solo Bass Viol" by Daniel Rippe. With three works of the 16th/17th Century, it contains "O Darkest Woe" (Mainz 1628), a melody of Thomas Tallis, and the song "Farewell, dear love" by Robert Jones. For each, the original version is printed on one page with continuo accompaniment or as five-part [four-part] pieces. On the facing page are relatively simple "improvisations". I personally like the third one the best because it comes closest to a contemporary lute intabulation [tablature].

The second edition contains nine [now ten] pieces by Louis Couperin from the "Bauyn Manuscript" in Paris [c.1675]. The original manuscript is a collection of 120 pieces for cembalo (harpsichord), four for organ and five for ensemble. That some the pieces have titles like "Fantaise pour les violes" or "Fantaisie de violes", is not surprising, given that Louis Couperin was also employed as a viol player at the French court. The other pieces selected by Rippe also lie very well on the viola da gamba, whether playing them using a treble on the upper part with a bass viol below, or instead using a bass viol reading an octave down with a keyboard instrument (the notation uses treble and bass clefs). Some are clearly duets, others are for solo instrument with continuo. There are few bass figures (as in the original), but no realization. The degree of difficulty is on middle level, however, the pieces are quite interesting musically and therefore worthwhile.

The third and latest edition of the publishing house (just like the fourth, yet to be published) brings very interesting transcriptions of Bach Chorales for two bass viols and Continuo. In his informative preface the publisher refers to the long tradition of transcription and adaptation, providing evidence with Bach's own works. In these works, Rippe's skillful exchanging of the voices of the two gambas with the upper and lower voices of the keyboard successfully clarifies the contrapuntal art of Bach, as well as it creates very interesting musical effects.

The computer printing is clean and clear, with page turns well-considered and in appropriate places for the booklet. Orders can be placed directly over the internet, at the web page of the publishing house: www.RipMeister.com.

Hannah Davidson, editor, Newsletter of the Viola da Gamba Society - New England, December 2005, page 3, "Music Review"

Also available from RipMeister Publications is a new edition of Louis Couperin's pieces for treble viol and bass, from the Bauyn manuscript. Time to retire the ancient, faded Xerox copy of the old 1959 Oiseau-Lyre edition copied from the library! The Bauyn manuscript contains mostly keyboard music, but includes a number of pieces for treble viol, with a bass [line] which can be played on the bass viol, or realized on a harpsichord. These delightful simphonies, fantasies and psaumes are of varying difficulty, most including notes above the frets, and sixteenth- and thirty-second-notes. The provenance of some of the pieces is also of interest, suggesting a connection with the English composer Richard Mico. RipMeister Publications includes nine pieces in all [ten in the new 2nd edition], most for treble and bass viol and/or keyboard. This attractive edition includes useful notes on the pieces themselves, performance possibilities and sources.

[Note from the publisher: The pieces in treble clef also work beautifully an octave down on bass viol.]

Ann Marie Morgan, contributor, Newsletter of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, March 2004, Volume 41, No. 1, page 13, "Review"

RipMeister Publications is worth keeping an eye on. Daniel Rippe, founder, is an accomplished violist da gamba, recently awarded a Maryland [State Arts Council] Individual Artist Grant. He plays the viol well and knows how to arrange for it, too (as demonstrated in RIP-1 Three Tune Settings for Solo Bass Viol). His most recent publication brings us chamber music by Louis Couperin.

As a teacher I am thrilled to have them (eight short duets and a trio [now two trios]). The edition itself is easy to read and comes with scores for two players. The pieces are appropriate for players of a wide range of abilities.

As a busy performer I am also delighted with this edition because of the helpful notes he includes in the publication. Though not a musicologist, Daniel provides detailed information about the origin of the manuscript and the decisions he made in making it available for our use. In his preface, Daniel suggests implementing various combinations of instruments from two viols (treble + bass and bass + bass) to solo instrument with continuo forces. This is a great addition to all violists' libraries — the music of Louis Couperin deserves to be played and heard.

(I wish to let the reader know that Daniel Rippe received his Graduate Performance Diploma as my pupil at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in 2000.)