Trinity Grade 4
Tango Passionis by Barbara Arens
Tango Passionis is from Piano Misterioso, published by Breitkopf & Härtel.
Isn't it incredible how music has the power to evoke an atmosphere, a place, even a lifestyle, sometimes just within a few bars? For me, this Tango Passionis lurches forward (bar 1), then a moment of pause, or is it 'hold' (bar 2) and this forward-hold, forward-hold pattern is repeated. Take care to make the most of the crescendo and decrescendo of each phrase. The LH has the all-important job of beating the tango rhythm and providing the harmonic support for the RH melody.
Here is a recording of Barbara Arens herself playing the piece.
Ballo Gaio by Henk Badings
Ballo Gaio is from Kleine Klavierstücke, published by Schott Music.
This original piano piece is over in a flash and I see it as a musical sandwich. An initial idea bb. 1-6, a middle section bb. 7-12, back to the initial idea bb. 13-17 and an ending bb. 18-22.
Though both hands are in unison at the very start there's plenty of dissonance here (for example b. 3, beat 1 C, D & E all together, beat 2 L.H B against R.H. A ...and the same in the next bar).
What key are we in? Well it certainly has a strong flavour of G major (though no key-signature), but we are left unsure at times (take a look at bb. 11-12), and we only hear a G major chord at the very end. The last line is quite a challenge - but fun to work out what the composer is 'saying'.
Barcarolle by Friedrich Burgmüller
This Barcarolle is no. 22 from 25 études faciles et progressive, op. 100. So one of the trickier ones!
A Barcarolle is a folk song sung by Venetian gondoliers. This one, not a real folk song as far as I am aware, but composed in that style is very descriptive. Are the opening bars suggesting getting into the boat, getting ready for the ride? A sense of anticipation in bars 7 & 8, push out and we're off. And is that the rhythm of the gondolier's oar in the LH from bar 12, with the singing gondolier coming in at b. 13?
Andantino by Edward Elgar
Andantino is the opening movement of Sonatina.
It needs legato lines and the phrase marks show the ebb and flow of the music - so a dying away in bar 2 but no gap before the start of bar 3. Take care to hold the LH notes (e.g. bb. 9 - 12) which underpin the harmony and create a descending counter melody, as the RH reaches ever higher!
Largamente (b. 13) - take your time as the first section draws to a close.
Throughout take care over the distinction between a phrase that begins with a quaver (e.g. RH bb. 9 & 11) and where it begins with a semiquaver (e.g. RH b. 13 & upbeat to b. 34). This is a detail I didn't always get right in the recording! Can you spot where I don't?
Largamente, poco allargando, a tempo, tenuto, rit., espress., all tell us we need to play with rubato. When we do slow up, we subsequently need to re-establish the normal speed to avoid the piece getting ever slower.
You may notice there is a flower in the bottom left corner of the video thumbnail. This is a Windflower, the name Elgar gave to a friend and confidente who helped his creativity! Windflower was in fact Alice (also his wife's first name!) Stuart-Wortley the daughter of the artist James Everett Millais.
Por una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel arr. Farrington
This arrangement of Por una cabeza is from Grade by Grade Piano, Grade 4, published by Boosey & Hawkes (2015).
What a wonderful song this is by Carlos Gardel a singer, songwriter, and actor, tragically killed in an airplane crash in 1935 at the age of 44. This song uses a Habanera rhythm in the left-hand accompaniment, one of the key ingredients of a Tango.
Gardel was nicknamed 'The King of Tango': he is a central figure in the development of this latin-american musical form.
Here is a clip of Gardel himself singing Por una cabeza.
Here is a video of Nicola Benedetti & friends playing it at a concert in New York.
I understand 'por una cabeza' is a horse-racing term 'by a head' suggesting a narrow victory.
Little Piece no.17 by Aleksandr Gedike
Little Piece no. 17 is from 20 Little Pieces for Beginners, op. 6 (1957).
Why do publishers ever think it a good idea to use diminutives like 'little' and 'for beginners' on the cover page? Especially when the pieces themselves take some considerable bit of working out! After you've put in the time getting to grips with this one you'd be forgiven for feeling it was more than 'little' and that you are indeed no longer a beginner!
Two very distinct musical ideas here. The first (in A minor, note the melodic minor in b. 15) is rugged, passionate and determined: Gedike's indication is risoluto. The second, though initially suggestive of F-sharp minor, settles into A major and is tender and calm, and in stark contrast to the beginning: Gedike asks for tranquillo.
Minuet in E major by Johann Kirnberger
Our fingers have to be quite nimble here and we have 4 sharps to negotiate. But there's nothing like the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge! Look out for the way the melodic material alternates between the two hands at bb. 25-28. There are also plenty of dynamic markings helping give character to the piece.
Allegretto by Wolfgang Mozart
This Allegretto (K. 15hh) is from The London Sketchbook, a collection of 39 keyboard pieces written whilst the Mozart family (father, son & daughter) were in London. They stayed there for a year as part of their European tour. Leopold Mozart had a bout of illness whilst they were in London. We might well imagine that the family were a little house-bound. Young Mozart (he was 8/9 years old) would have had time to compose, no doubt encouraged by his father. Mozart's first Symphony also dates from this period.
You Have to Shake It by Ross Petot
You Have To Shake It is from Jazz Alley - Intermediate, published by Kjos.
Bop Goes the Weasel, trad. arr. Kevin Holt
This swung, up-beat version of the nursery rhyme is from Repertoire Builder, Book 2, published by Spartan (2013).
All 6 Exercises
1a. Little Waltz
1b. Evening Sun
2a. Waltz Echoes
2b. A Walk in the Woods
3b. Roll up, roll up!
Scales & Arpeggios
♩= 100, f or p, legato or staccato, two octaves, hands together
A♭ major & F minor (harmonic or melodic)
E major & C♯ minor (harmonic or melodic)
E major contrary-motion
Chromatic scale in similar-motion starting on B
Chromatic scale in contrary-motion starting on A♭ (legato, one octave)
♩= 80, f or p, legato or staccato, two octaves, hands separately
A♭ major & F minor
E major & C♯ minor
All 9 Pieces
ARENS, B. - Tango Passionis
BADINGS, H. - Ballo Gaio
BURGMÜLLER, F. - Barcarolle
ELGAR, E. - Andantino
GARDEL, C. - Por una cabeza
GEDIKE, A. - Little Piece no.17
KIRNBERGER, J. - Minuet in E major
MOORE, G. - Waltz Mystique
MOZART, W. - Allegretto