Trinity Grade 7
Allegro by A. Eberl
This is the first movement of the Sonata, op.6.
Allegro by G. F. Handel
This Allegro is RCM (2015) Level 7.
At the top of the pile of Handel's keyboard music comes the Eight Great Suites HWV 426-433. This Allegro is the third movement of no.7 in G minor, HWV 432.
The 6 movements are Overture, Andante, Allegro, Sarabande, Gigue and Passacaglia. With repeats, just under 20 minutes of music.
First I play it with the metronome set to 144 bpm, the tempo recommended in the exam booklet. Then a run through at half-speed, again with the metronome (72bpm). I think it is useful to practice with the metronome, perhaps in small chunks. This obliges us to keep a rock-steady pulse, not to rush and draws our attention to any bits that we don't quite know! But for a performance, the phrases need greater flexibility than this and a chance to 'breath'. I include two performance takes at the end. It is worthwhile taking time to work out and mark in fingering that works for you. The RH is particularly busy and could run out of fingers or find itself in impossible positions without careful attention here.
I recommend this recording on harpsichord with wonderfully ornamented repeats. The Allegro is at 8m25s.
Minuet in D major by W. A. Mozart
As a standalone Minuet, not part of a Sonata this Minuet is somewhat unusual for Mozart. This is easily explained by the fact that Mozart didn't prepare it for publication, it only appeared in print in the early 19th-century. It was written whilst Mozart was in his early 30s - towards the end of his life! It has a slightly capricious character, jumping from loud dissonance and chromaticism to refined delicate elegance, within just a few bars. As such it is influenced by the 'Sturm und Drang' aesthetic which sought free expression of extreme human emotion. Ideas popular in literature, art and music through the 1760s to 1780s.
The fact that Mozart didn't prepare the piece for publication means we lack a definitive final copy and different versions exist. I inadvertently played from a different score than the one displayed - not very helpful, I'm sorry! Though this does make us reflect on how the broader picture and the 'feel' are perhaps more important than the detail.
On the whole, this Minuet uses 3-part writing so we need to think carefully about the voicing to ensure the 'right' lines can clearly be heard. In the central section, Mozart uses a hemiola - a short section (6 beats) with a 2/4 feel though we are of course in 3/4. This helps build tension and drive the music forward.
Aftermath by T. Chanler
Aftermath is taken from a collection of piano pieces titled Homage to Paderewski.
There is a CD of the complete Homage to Paderewski by the British pianist Jonathan Plowright (Hyperion). It is possible to listen online here and our piece is so short, you can hear it all!
Paderewski was an extraordinary man. As well as being a highly respected, not to mention financially successful, concert pianist and composer, he was for a short period in 1919 prime minister of Poland during what must have been a very difficult period, trying to re-establish Poland in the aftermath of WW1.
In 1941 Boosey & Hawkes commissioned a group of contemporary composers (Bartók, Britten, Milhaud & Martinu to mention a few) to compose a piano piece each to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Paderewski's first concert appearance in the US. Unfortunately, Paderewski (then in his 80s) died before the project was complete, but 17 pieces were published the following year, Aftermath being one of them.
I have to confess, I hadn't come across the music of Theodore Chanler before - I shall keep a lookout! Chanler's life too was somewhat wrapped up in politics. His grandfather sat in the House of Representatives and US President Theodore Roosevelt was his godfather.
Kinderstücke no.2 by F. Mendelssohn
Kinderstücke no. 2 is an RCM (2015) Level 8 piece.
The score for the 6 Kinderstücke, op.72 attached here, though it is not the same as the edition used in the Trinity exam booklet. There are a number of differences so perhaps not to be used for the exam itself.
The Sechs Kinderstücke were composed during the summer of 1842 whilst the Mendelssohns were visiting relatives in London. There were originally eight pieces, four each for two of their host's children. After some tidying up of the original scores, they were published posthumously on 12 December 1847 - Mendelssohn having died on 4 November - with two of the original eight pieces being omitted. In the first English edition, they were presented as 'Six pieces composed as a Christmas present', presumably on the publisher's whim, though the German edition retained the intended title of Six Children's Pieces.
Here is a recording of no. 1.
Sarah by T. Peter-Horas
A beautiful contemporary piece. A drawn-out RH melody over a flowing arpeggiated LH accompaniment that uses the I - vi - IV - V progression. A short middle section that grows in intensity before repetition of the opening ideas, this time with an additional inner melody line.
There are tricky bits: working out the syncopations created by the tied notes, playing the melody cleanly and clearly in octaves, playing two simultaneous melodic ideas in a single hand, a flowing LH that uses a substantial chunk of the keyboard. But it's well worth the study, rewarding for us and enjoyable for those who listen!
Fiesta by J. Turina
Fiesta is from Miniatures, a collection of 8 short pieces for solo piano by the Spanish composer Joaquín Turina.
In this video I play the piece three times, each faster than the one before (76bpm, 96bpm & 116 bpm). This is to illustrate an approach to learning music that may initially seem rapid and perhaps a little daunting. We have to be able to play slowly and accurately, maintaining a steady pulse and not slowing up for the tricky bits if we are latter to be able to play quickly. It is also a good idea to pay attention to all the other aspects of a performance from the outset: dynamics, articulation, phrasing and so on. To learn just the notes first then add in the detail as an afterthought, makes the learning process unnecessarily longwinded.
Somewhat unusually, each of the three performances here is played with a metronome. I am not suggesting that a performance of this piece should be metronomic - it did feel odd and constraining. But this can a useful stage in the learning process.
Group B alternative
Visions fugitive no.10 by S. Prokofiev
Prokofiev was in his mid-20s when he wrote this collection of piano pieces. They were written between 1915 and 1917 - difficult times. They are surely somewhat experimental ...impressionistic perhaps?
The 20 short pieces are collectively known as Visions fugitives (Fleeting Visions). Prokofiev was playing the pieces amongst friends, a poet amongst them was inspired to write some verses. These were subsequently translated and it is from this French version of the poems that the collection of piano pieces gets it's name.
Group B alternative
La Chapelle by Eugénie Rocherolle
La Chapelle is from Souvenirs du Château, a collection of 5 solo piano pieces (Kjos, 1992).
Eugénie Rocherolle writes:
In the heart of France there is a lovely medieval family castle with centuries of memories, it is called Château de la Rocherolle. In this collection I have tried to capture the old and the new in a French blend of musical tapestry.
Of 'La Chapelle' she writes:
The Chapel is the site of a number of family weddings, including our daughter's in 1982. It speaks of reverence and romance.
Group B alternative
How bleak the Sea tonight by M. Tanner
Mark Tanner has several books in the '...scapes' series. How bleak the Sea tonight is from Nightscapes (2012).
It feels a little like a study for the LH, with a constant flowing movement, big leaps and an arpeggio figure that reminds us of Chopin's Etude op.10 no.12.
All 6 Exercises
1a. Obsessive Nature
1b. Con Amore
2b. Vamp Style
3a. Top Ten
3b. Under Control
Scales & Arpeggios
♩= 130, f or mf or p or crescendo/diminuendo, legato or staccato, 4 octaves
A-flat, E major
G-sharp, E harmonic and melodic minor
Chromatic scale in similar motion a minor 3rd apart (LH on C, RH on E-flat)
♩= 70, mf, legato, 2 octaves
E major in 3rds
♩= 110, f or mf or p or crescendo/diminuendo, legato or staccato, 4 octaves
A-flat, E major
G-sharp, E minor
Dim 7th starting on A-flat and E
Dom 7th in the key of A-flat and E
E major contrary motion (legato, 2 octaves)