An old favourite appears in the A list; Invention in A minor by Bach. It's the first of two works in the selected pieces that exploit the full range of a Baroque keyboard instrument. Not only the keyboard instrument of the day needs to be borne in mind when preparing these pieces, but also the challenges of producing that sound world on today's modern pianos. By marking in dynamics where there are echoes or sequences and articulating well, we can exploit tonal variety and emulate the delicacy that a harpsichord, for example, would produce.
Structurally, Bach makes it easy for us to subdivide the work for practice; the cadences at bar 6, 13 and end-sequence at bar 17 provide suitable markers. Balancing the main motif when it is imitated between the hands is the primary objective. Interest will come from differentiating between how the quavers and semiquavers are played - the semiquaver groups should be smoother and the quaver intervals quasi-staccato. Slow practice = quick progress! A relaxed wrist that is able to rotate slightly will facilitate ease of movement - particularly in tricky bars like bar 19, the only bar where both hands play semiquaver groups together and begin to move in contrary motion. The ending is a glorious build-up of rising left hand sixths and undulating right hand. Make much of the final pauses! Great stuff, and a popular choice with pupils already...
When it comes to B section, with its Romantic/Nation-inspired pieces, there are three lovely choices in the book. Gade's Scherzo from Akvareller is truly playful and demands the delicacy of touch to match the lightness of water-colour painting. Differences in colour are suggested in the huge dynamic range to be exploited in this piece. The right hand semiquaver phrases will require a relaxed hand, and the left hand undulating chords a light thumb. Dabs of colour can be painted with light pedalling throughout these passages too, not just where printed. The opening is one of the trickiest moments - changing fingers on the same note - and the rising chromatic thirds in bars 14 and 15 will probably need some pedal to assist. Because of the stretches in some left hand chords (tenths), spreading them will be necessary. If any of these challenges can't be achieved without awkwardness or discomfort, best to suggest a different piece in the group.
As usual, the other pieces for the grade are specific arrangements (in this case A4 Bach) or from a variety of different volumes and publishers... Those of you lucky enough to have any of these yourselves, or who can rely on a teacher library service, have even more choice. However, this book of selected pieces for Grade 6 has plenty to offer.
I am going to enjoy working with them.