Now, if you like your jazz quartets, C3 60s Swing is a super choice. In fact, one pupil has already chosen it for her programme first. The thing here is to imagine all the ideas shared between the instruments in the jazz group. Piano (or maybe violin even) for the right hand figure that's introduced and then improvised upon in bars 10 to 16. Woodwind (clarinet or sax I think) joins in with crotchet and minim figures. Bars 17 to 22 are written for the double bass in my view, strolling away with a laid-back feel. It would be really advantageous to be able to practise this piece alongside a drum rhythm on a keyboard... What fun - keep everything relaxed, let the arm lead the hand and keep the wrist supple for the accented crotchets. The rise and fall of the melody line will lend itself to further dynamic detail than is already laid out in the score. It's a great piece to relax into at the end of an exam programme!
B3 Am Abend. Hofmann's little salon piece is a relaxing example of evening family entertainment. It is songlike so the right hand melody lines should be treated as such. In this way the balance in the parts will be heard better - the harmony quavers should murmur. We should breathe with the phrases as if we are singing, too. I think that any crescendos or louder passages should be treated as 'warmth by the fire' rather than anything that might force the tone. A relaxed forearm, allowing the wrist to rotate freely and lean towards the outside of the hand, will bring the melody out. There are opportunities for rubato in this piece and perhaps a slight stringendo before the rit in bar 35. Once again I am reminded of Schumann's Waldscenen. The last few bars are reminiscent of his 'Friendly Landscape'! Just shows what a subconscious influence certain composers have in reinforcing the style of a period.
(i) forearm rotation during the thundering tremolos
(ii) controlling the arm weight during the crescendos and decrescendos, both during the tremolos and for the 'con fuoco' passage in bars 13 and 14 - let the left hand descend with a firm grip!
(iii) keeping the semiquavers even between the hands - slow practice then speed up gradually
(iv) gradation of dynamics, particularly in bar 14 and towards the ending as the storm rumbles away
(v) judicious use of the pedal, it should add colour but not blur the harmonies
A lot to think about, which makes this a really engaging piece. The Schumannesque statement of menace in bars 24 and 25 as the storm has one last burst should be really enjoyed. It's difficult to choose which piece from this list, I think!
A3 - Pleyel's Adagio. I'm struck by the grace of this piece. Immediately what comes to mind when playing it through is that the rhythm mustn't be interrupted by the grace notes. I would advocate pupils practising without them for a while in order to focus on the variations in articulation and nuances of dynamics - let the dynamics rise and fall with the melodic line e.g. bar 9/10. The staccatissimo markings denote lightness rather than anything accented, in order to convey contrast between these semiquavers and the legato scale passages, some of which are slurred and some are not. The fz in bars 22 and 23 denote slightly more pressure into the finger pad rather than a sudden accent - they make the staccatissimo quavers that follow 'dance'. There are some rhythmic challenges to note even without ornaments; bars 25 into the da capo hold the danger of being rushed if careful counting is lacking and the timing into the repeat for the turn must be spot on!