Ah, the fugue... knowing what the subjects are ,when and how they come and interplay with each other. By the end of bar 6 we have met them both, but how different is their treatment in the piece. The stepwise movement inherent in both reflects the Russian flavour (and what a pleasant change to find a Russian composer in the early list). The entries in three different voices (treble/tenor/bass) are a reflection of Bach's Baroque style. Yet the chromatic nature of some of the motifs reminds us that this is a later, Romantic composer, so there is scope for thoughtfulness, warmth and a range of dynamics more akin to that period.
Identifying all the entries of both subjects always seems to me a great activity - a musical treasure hunt with 'spot the inversions' thrown in, serious but a fun way of getting to know the intricacies of the voices away from the keyboard. Make sure the subjects are coded 1 and 2 and written in wherever possible, then play them on their own to get to know the character of each one. Before we get to bar 16 it is evident that balancing the subject voices between the hands is going to present some challenges. Write the fingering in and keep it consistent in every practice session! Slow practice, with critical listening, is one of the best bits of advise I could give a pupil, for example between bars 11 and 16. Also, where should one subject have prominence over the other? It may be that as the subject line rises in pitch, that will be more obvious. At any rate, ensure that the subject entries are well defined.
The development section starting on the second page is where attention focuses on the first subject and there are some lovely inversions (bar 36) and stretto (starting bar 40). From bar 54 onwards, there is a sense of rising grandeur, which culminates in the bass octaves. These should have sufficient arm weight to give them accents that are majestic rather than forceful . The hints at the subjects are teasing towards the end, which should broaden out rather than become suddenly slow. I love the way the pp motifs from bar 63 create a contrast to the hiatus just before.
To pedal or not to pedal - that is the question. Touches here and there will help create warmth, though one usually prioritises good fingerwork legato in the Baroque style. I would certainly use the pedal towards the climax in bar 62 and in the last few bars. Well worth the effort, this one.
This ritornello piece is happy and spirited - a joyful gigue that one would normally find as the final movement in a suite. Suggesting to students that they dance around the room going, "A-diddly-diddly-dee. A-diddly diddly-dee" etc might lead to raised eyebrows and questions regarding the teacher's sanity, but it doesn't half help to feel where the accents should be within the pulse and to give a sense of how the piece flows. Triplets should have lighter final quavers with slightly more emphasis on the first in each group; the first beat of each bar should have the main stress with a lesser one on beat 3. If pupils really can't face 'riverdancing', then clapping or tapping on the piano lid is a must. I would also suggest that if students have a keyboard with harpsichord function, they practise it there also, so that the deftness of touch and sound quality can be 'transferred' to the piano. Blessed are those who have a period instrument...
Bars 15 to 18 and similar figures will cause issues if wrists aren't pliant and relaxed - a bit of rotation is in order here. I would also allow this section to grow in tone to match the upward movement. The editorial dynamics are helpful in suggesting question/answer or call/echo effects; this will also add to the spirit and lightness of the piece. For articulation, imagining a bassoon for the left hand adds a bit of light-hearted pomposity to the bass, particularly where there are crotchet/quaver octaves. Where there are crotchets and rests, for example in bars 7/8, 16/17 and 28/29, I would use a slightly flatter finger and float off with the wrist. These bars strike me as the 'clap while others dance down the line' moments - it certainly is a piece to choreograph!
Ornaments are always a challenge if the pace is quick. It would be less effective to slow the tempo down, so the trills might be turned into mordents if necessary. I think the last chord might be arpeggiated slightly - it makes the ending lighter and less 'solid'.
Whenever Mozart appears on a syllabus, for me it's difficult to choose 'anyone but'. This glorious first movement, in pastoral G major, epitomises everything about Mozart's genius in sonata form and it's well worth some analysis for the structure alone, such is the skill with which he introduces and plays on ideas. Knowing what makes the movement 'tick' can only serve to enhance a pupil's study of it and heighten their enjoyment in practice.
The exposition of the first subject begins with Q&A motifs and the quaver couplets which are characteristic of his graceful style. Close attention to articulation differences are required from the start; the semiquavers in bars 8/9 and 14/15 should run like smooth honey. Note the hemiolas in these bars too - respect paid to Baroque. The transition to the second subject group, from bars 16 to 22, requires some nerve - fingers close to the keys, left hand octaves light and unobtrusive, and try not to let it run away with you! This tutti effect is quintessential Mozart; let it build with a gradual crescendo towards the final trill.
The second subject introduces lots of different ideas and contrasts. Bars 23 to 30 are typical of the way he introduces an idea then decorates it, almost to the point of disguise. The legato offbeat figure is developed into descending semiquaver skips; the Scotch snaps are contrasted as ascending four-semiquaver runs. Pure brilliance, and that is also what the player should aim for in tone throughout the semiquaver passages. I would practise this section quite a bit with the metronome to check that it doesn't gain momentum and also keep the left hand thumb under close control in the Alberti bass. The octave transition for the left hand thumb is tricky in bar 30 - precision at slower speeds are suggested first here.
Further articulation and dynamic contrasts follow. Between bars 32 and 37, focus on (i) staccatissimo wedges,
(i) quaver couplets that dance from a float-off wrist action, (iii) lateral movement and wrist rotation in the semiquaver groups. There's such a lot to think about but so worth it! I love that bars 43 and 44 are snatches of the transition at the end of the first subject, and again he uses exposition and ornamentation in bars 45 to 50 as the exposition section as a whole comes to an end.
At the start of the development, which by contrast is quite short, we can have a bit of a relative breather! The Scotch snap comes back in various guises before the staccato quaver bars from 62 to 67. Before we know it, the recapitulation is upon us with some teasing twists and turns. Playing 'spot the difference' with pupils will develop their listening skills (as always, it's a good thing to include aural work in the context of work being studied). In bars 75 and 79, the descending quaver thirds are a case in point. He teases us, enchants us and tests our agility all at the same time. Ace.