I'm usually of the mind that pupils should play to their strengths, especially in exam situations. This one is for the extrovert who enjoys a fast ride. Conversely, it is not for the faint-hearted, unless they really want to start pushing the boundaries at this grade. It is an exciting way to finish an exam programme if you enjoy modern compositions, too. I wonder what William Wordsworth, whose ode 'Intimations of Immortality' inspired this composition, would have thought of it?
Notwithstanding the note at the bottom of the first page which suggests that 'students might prefer' to play it sixteen quavers a minute slower, I would practise it even slower at first. Indeed I am still working on it at 120 quavers a minute! Don't get hung up on the time signature changes - just tap out the LH chords in the first few bars and then tap out the sextuplets and triplets with them, to get a feel for the rhythms.
I found it better to not practise anything at all until I had scanned it in its entirety and segmented the piece, so I could see where repetitions and similarities occurred. That way, you know where there is some opportunity to revisit motifs and to inject a little nuance the second time around. For example, bars 1-3 are repeated at an octave lower in bars 10-12. Bars 16-19 are the same except for a changing bass pedal; these are also repeated at octave in bars 22-23. The ascending LH demisemiquavers are easy to learn here. At bar 28 we arrive back in familiar territory. This all means that learning the piece isn't as scary as it seems at first glance, it's just that the performer will need a degree of the confident gymnast in him/her.
To this end, grasping keyboard geography is vital. For those who wear glasses (like me), memorising as much as possible will help. I love bar 41's instruction "vertiginoso - dizzying" Quite!
Strategies I've adopted to aid learning and facility:
1. Remember that slow practice equals quicker progress
2. Divide the piece up into sections - at bars 10, 20, 28, 37 for example
3. Ensure you have tapped out the metres: 1++2+, 1++2++ and 1+2+3+
4. Practise left hand chords in strict time and then add the right hand
5. Practise scales in thirds
6. Put fingerings in and apply consistently
7. Practise one bar then add another then another so the piece build up that way- what I call 'jigsawing'
8. Practise sextuplet groups up and down the keyboard to build confidence
9. Come off the staccato semiquavers lightly for shape
I hope you enjoy this piece of you choose it!