Renaud de Vilbac
Themes from Rossini's Opera Barber of Seville for Piano Trio
Rossini's Barber of Seville transcriped for Piano Trio? The tradition of transcription has enjoyed a long and honored history. From the very beginning publishers such as Petrucci. Attaingnant and others all offered transcriptions of large scale works in arrangement for piano or small ensembles. With the appearance the opera, the works of such pioneers as Lully were transcribed and arranged for chamber groups. By the time of Mozart it was common place. In the 19th century, virtually all of the great pianists, including such notables as Liszt, Thalberg and Alkan, made and or played transcriptions with virtuoso variations of famous arias. In fact, over half of Liszt's concert repertoire consisted of transcriptions and paraphrases of operas by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Wagner.
Renaud de Vilbac (1829-1884) was born in the French town of Montpellier. He entered the Paris Conservatory at age 13 and studied organ with Francois Benosi and composition with Fromental Halevy. He took first prize on organ as well as the Prix de Rome for compositoin. He enjoyed a long career as an organist in Paris and his compositions for organ were often performed. Additionally, he became known as one of the finest arrangers of operatic work for small ensembles such as the piano trio and his transcriptions of the works of Mozart, Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti, Carl Maria von Weber and many others were highly popular and kept his name alive up until the First World War when such works went out of fashion.
In 1875, the publishing firm of Litolff brought out a collection entitled Trio Dramatiques which appeared in 2 volumes. Each had five trios. To appreciate de Vilbac's excellent taste and superb craftsmanship, it is not necessary to know the opera, but can be listened to as pure chamber music. The work is so fine, there is no hint that it is a transcription. This is a work not only to be enjoyed at home but in the concert hall. Litolff also asked de Vilbac to provide a flute part as an alternate for the violin. This he did and we offer that option as well.