C2 Bridge : Canzonetta
There is a beautiful, lyrical opening to this piece. Some experience of playing Chopin and Field Nocturnes will be of benefit with cantabile interpretation of the main theme, especially when it returns in the final section.
The instruction 'Allegretto molto moderato e rubato' gives plenty of scope to enjoy the contemplative mood of the opening. A relaxed left arm, a wrist that relaxes between chords and flatter finger pads that 'sink into the armchair' will enable the accompaniment to provide a haunting base; the melody line dynamic rises and falls quite naturally and there is a lovely tenuto top E in b 7. Make the most of the rit. just before the bitonal interlude, somewhat dissonant with it's cross relations.
There is a lot of tension set up by the contrasting harmonies in this section. It might be described it as spiky and awkward, or can it be seen as refreshing - or just plain quirky? It's a bit like a strange dream sequence....The constant left hand figure should remain light. Articulate the right hand well as indicated, but there should be no undue force on the offbeat accents - it is pp after all!
Revisiting the main theme with variations is not as taxing as it first seems, if the internal compound quavers are felt first, then add the descant embellishment over the top. This is especially important for bar 44. The ending gives another opportunity to exploit 'holding the moment'. It's a great piece for a thoughtful student who can bring out the contrasting styles.
C3 Chopin: Waltz in B minor
This piece shifts between the tonic major and minor, but is predominantly melancholic. Singing it initially will help to recognise phrasing structure and how to shade the dynamics. All in all, it is not particularly taxing for this grade. Bearing in mind there is 'Adelita', shorter but in similar style at Grade 5 in the 2013-14 syllabus, I am wondering whether this piece would have been better placed maybe at Grade 7? Granted, the Chopin involves more ornamentation and has a more demanding harmonic structure. Here are a few points that I would encourage students to think about:
- add emphasis to the initial LH bass note to signal harmonic change
- change pedal with harmony
- shade all dynamics with the melody line
- note nuances in the phrasing, in bars 6/7 and b13 for example
- make sensitive use of rubato
- clearly define the articulation when the main theme is ornamented from bar 30 to 48
- play the major section with brightness to make it come alive