I confess to not having heard of Schale before, but A2 is another graceful and stately Minuet - definitely one for maintaining longer phrase lengths in a singing style - singing them out loud while playing will be going in practice notes, I think. It also has an orchestral feel to it; imagine pizzicato strings in the LH and an oboe or flute for the RH voice? I like this one particularly.
One or two of my students will take one look at two pages for A3 Cantabile and think 'Yikes!'. Articulating Alberti bass is always an enjoyable process to start with, so that will be the strategy - lean into the little finger a little to highlight changes in harmony/light thumb/relaxed wrist. The coda is sweet. I wouldn't put the ornaments in until between balance between the hands and a singing RH melody are achieved. Actually I wouldn't recommend this piece to any pupil for whom the pulse might be affected by including ornaments that require such nifty finger work - it's a tricky one for that. It's a relief that ABRSM have said that they are optional(!), but if it is chosen, it would be a shame to have to leave the turns out.
Yet again the B section poses dilemmas of choice - all three pieces will appeal to someone; I should also acknowledge at this stage that there are, of course, three more choices in each list for all the grades - budget permitting!
It's great to see B1 Serenade Espagnole - it brings to mind listening to traditional Spanish music from Eugen the guitarist, who entertained us while we ate leisurely lunches in Ronda shade last summer... The trickier rhythms should be clapped, flamenco-like, before being transferred to the keyboard. Guitar-finger precision is the order of the day for the castanet ending - and a final Olé!
B2 Neugasimov's Lullaby has a beautifully haunting LH broken chord accompaniment with its chromatic lines. I would play each chord in full first with different strengths to find the right amount of finger control needed to make the broken chords just murmur underneath the RH melody. This is a good one for recognising and learning ledger lines! 'Sinking into the armchair' is a term I use with my students when playing quiet chords - this is required at the end...
B3 Schumann's Gukkuk im Versteck (Hide and Seek) is a demanding piece, particularly in the middle section, but what kudos to be able to say, "I played some Schumann for my Grade 2 exam!" The articulation has to be so precise and within an overall quiet dynamic range. The notes suggest 'tiptoeing' and 'maximum secrecy' which makes for a fun sound picture and the communication of that fun should come across in performance.
C1 - The Old Cowhand. I like Nikki Iles' arrangements and this one will appeal to jazz lovers; those for whom swung/syncopated rhythms come easily, and who have a feel for dynamic subtleties, will be able to showcase their musicianship skills. The middle section is the more difficult with the chords, so some time spent sorting out fingering and establishing a pulse rate that can be maintained in this section will be the first priority.
Hummel's Prelude C2 is perhaps one for a more mature/thoughtful student - the arpeggio figure that keeps returning demands different treatment each time it appears and there are some 'moody' bars to respond to. I'm not sure if this one will be an immediate choice. Control of legato pedalling, transfer of melody between the hands and the varied articulation in the sequenced passages are some of the challenges. There's a 'bad-tempered' feel to the ending, exasperation even. Despite playing it a few times, I haven't warmed to it yet - however....
C3 Gachou no Koushin more than makes up for it! After the inclusion of Chinese styles in the previous syllabus, it's good to see breadth developing further with this Japanese piece. It's hilarious and I know it's going to be a firm favourite with its 'waddling' quavers and 'honking' dynamics.... I have just introduced the Elephant March from Party Time to a pre-Grade 1 student, and this one is in the same comic vein, but with greater challenges! Practising it as a duet in small sections at first, teacher and pupil alternating parts, will help with the pace, to emphasise the articulation details and to paint the comic picture. A winner - just wish I knew how to pronounce the title properly...
Spoiled for choice in Grade 2, but if it were me:
A1 Impertinence B1 Serenade Espagnole C3 Gachou no Koushin