Not that kind of carousel, of course, but when you are waiting for your suitcase to come round again it can feel like a merry-go-round...
The Spectrum series always includes some surprises, and this one has all the fun of the fair; it's a crazy, spinning whirligig of a soundworld that leaves you physically and metaphorically breathless if you apply the 'impetuoso' direction. In the initial stages of practice, attention should be given to the counting, due to the changes in time signature. Fingering will need to be applied consistently and written in where necessary. There are many tenuto marks and accents, so crotchets with these indications should be emphasised for their full value. What springs to mind is that the whole piece should not go any faster than what the pupil can manage in bars 40 to 56. otherwise it's just going to sound out of control - this is the hardest section. It must be phrased and pedalled very precisely so as not to miss the articulation changes. The gradation of tone from subito piano to the sforzando is an exciting passage and hopefully will be well judged.
Pupils wishing to get the most from the virtuoso freefall down the keys will need a strong right hand thumbnail!
Here's a favourite from my teenage years. As a primary teacher, I always found that the children really enjoyed studying Ancient Egypt. I might suggest to a pupil to imagine the canopic jars, not lined up as Debussy might have seen them in a museum display case, but in their original positions, still inside the dark, silent world of the Egyptian tomb before it has been discovered. Eeriness, mystery, secrecy, quiet isolation...
Think of this piece of music as if it is a story, with an opening, developments, climax, denouement and resolution. Bars 1 - 6 are the opening, with gentle chords made more resonant with touches of pedal. The left hand tenuto minim and crotchet in bar 3 should be brought out clearly but not forced. Catch the D minor chord with the pedal while both hands play the crotchets in bars 5 and 6, half-pedalling as they rise in pitch. Note that the semibreve A on beat one of bar 7 really belongs to the previous bar, to match the opening phrase. The second motif from bar 7 -10 is the beginning of the development in our story - give it a sense of percussive space. It's about gongs, cymbals and bells, almost a Far Eastern 'gamelan' feel rather than from the Middle East. Dynamically, note that the bass D is a shade stronger than the chord above it. Bars 11 to 13 are the next development: a different motif. All the left hand chords should be held down while the inner melody is played like bells lightly tapped. Bars 14 to 16 are the last stage in the development, until we reach some very exotic-sounding climactic 4ths. These should sound far away, as if there are slight noises or water droplets somewhere within the sound space. Note the change-around in dynamics in bar 18! The bass A is now quieter than the accented 4th above - if a pupil enjoys 'spot-the-difference' when analysing music, they'll enjoy finding such details. At bar 20, ensure that the G octaves are well held.
There's something rather comical about this piece - it reminds me of theme music to comedy half hours, such as Ever Decreasing Circles! It's a capricious, jaunty little runabout. If you look on YouTube, you will find a version with violin and piano, so you can sense the vigour within the voices.
It has three main sections and is quite quick - it will only take about 55 seconds to play it through if taken at the suggested tempo marking. Part A up to bar 20 is light-hearted, characterised by light staccato accompaniment in the right hand. Here the left hand has the interest. It is essential to note the symmetry in the scale runs (bars 4/7 and 8/11) where they ascend then descend. This happens also in the interval skips between bars 12 and 20. It's all part of the playfulness of the piece.
On the page, this piece doesn't look as taxing as the other pieces in this list, but everything must be secure under the fingers. There are octave leaps to negotiate as well as chromatic passages. A lot of slower, separate hand work is advisable in the early stages.
A3 Mozart Allegro, B2 MacDowell By a Meadow Brook, C2 Debussy Canope