Active Repertoire Challenge 2020

What can you play?

This is a question which for too many pianists leads to such answers as:

  • I’m working on Allegro, but it’s not yet ready to play;
  • I finished learning Andante last month, but I’ve forgotten it now;
  • I don’t have my music books with me, so …

What a pity!

The reality is that too many of us can’t sit down at the piano without notice, without notation, and without embarrassment, and simply play something!

Continue reading Active Repertoire Challenge 2020

My First Tchaikovsky

Wilhelm Ohmen’s My First Composers collections from Schott Music are proving to be a series which keeps on giving…

It only seems yesterday that I reviewed My First Haydn, having previously taken a look at My First Schumann and My First Beethoven. The series also includes collections of music by J.S. Bach, Mozart and Chopin.

The latest collection to join the series is My First Tchaikovsky, selected as this week’s Pianodao Choice

Continue reading My First Tchaikovsky

Introducing ‘Pianodao Choice'

Fresh for 2020, I am overhauling the schedule and rationale of reviews on the Pianodao blog. Here’s a quick summary of what to expect.

Previously I have tried reviewing as many publications as possible. Having long focused on those which most interest and impress me, each review has ended with a rating: Recommended, Highly Recommended or Outstanding.

Including too many reviews can prove somewhat overwhelming however, both for me as their writer, and for Pianodao readers sifting through them all in search of something suitable.

Addressing the balance from this month, my Pianodao Choice review each midweek will showcase one publication of special interest. And each month I will try to include repertoire suitable for all, from beginner to virtuoso pianist.

I am doing away with simplistic ratings, and hope that readers will approach Pianodao Choices mindfully, using the information and opinions within each review to help identify resources which for them deserve a closer look.

I will continue publishing larger group review articles as these can complement the weekly Pianodao Choice nicely, as well as the Recording of the Month and Building a Library book reviews.

And in addition to the midweek reviews, new Pianodao articles each weekend will of course continue to address the broader Way of Piano.

This all takes a lot of (unpaid!) work, so if you possibly can, please show your support by making a small donation using the red button below….

Thank you!


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The Pianist’s Resolution

The Pianist’s Reflections Series

The start of any new year or season is for many a time for making resolutions: a time for ambition, grit and determination.

Whether it’s a fresh commitment to healthy eating and exercise, or a renewed self-discipline in setting aside time to practise the piano, this is a month where many make a decision to turn a new leaf.

But how can we foster perseverance and ultimately success?

Continue reading The Pianist’s Resolution

So that was 2019…

As we slide from one decade into the next, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to readers for all your support in 2019.

The close of the year is always a time for reflection, for looking back at our successes and failures, for making resolutions to do and to be better in the coming year…

The last twelve months have been record-breaking ones for this site, with readership numbers worldwide having doubled in the last couple of years.

As ever, there have been many individual articles and reviews that have attracted special attention, and in this post I will be continuing the annual tradition of counting down the most popular ten posts.

It’s always interesting to see which posts most speak to the contemporary issues and concerns that readers have, and the list can be seen as a barometer of the subjects which the piano community are interested in at present.

I will also be naming the Pianodao Album of the Year 2019 as well as highlighting some other great piano recordings that I wasn’t able to feature in my Recording of the Month series.

And as in previous years, this post will disappear in just a few days’ time, so if you are interested… don’t wait! Now’s the time to read on …

Continue reading So that was 2019…

Mike Cornick’s Elgar Favourites

Sheet Music Review

In addition to Mike Cornick‘s new solo piano collection Ragtime Blues and more (which I recently reviewed here), Universal Edition have just published his latest collection for one piano, four hands: Elgar Favourites arranged for Piano Duet.

Once again, it’s a collection that’s well worth a look, so let’s take one…

Continue reading Mike Cornick’s Elgar Favourites

‘Ragtime Blues’ and more…

Sheet Music Review

The arrival of a new collection from the pen of composer and arranger Mike Cornick is always likely to be greeted with enthusiasm.

Cornick’s latest two publications are Ragtime Blues and more and Elgar Favourites (arranged for piano duet). The latter will be reviewed separately, while in this post I will be having a look at ‘Ragtime Blues and more’…

Continue reading ‘Ragtime Blues’ and more…

Musical Christmas gifts from children

Guest Post by Karen Marshall

Like many other musicians (and having musical children) I walk into the next two weeks packed with rehearsals, performances and concerts.

It is so easy to become stressed, anxious and to not remember that Christmas is suppose to be about joy (as I mentioned in my last year’s Christmas blog post).  

Yet, I want to suggest that over these next two weeks we look out for the special musical gifts we can receive from children we teach over this festive period.  

Continue reading Musical Christmas gifts from children

Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas: the Jonathan Del Mar edition

Sheet Music Review

As publishers prepare for the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Beethoven, several have been revisiting his Piano Sonatas, a steady flow of which have been arriving for review over recent months.

First to deliver their new version of the complete cycle are Bärenreiter, whose edition of all 35 Sonatas (including the three early Sonatas WoO 47) is now complete and available in a variety of formats.

An epic achievement, this new edition has already won the hearts and minds of some of the world’s greatest Beethoven interpreters; those giving glowing endorsements include Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough, Robert Levin, Leslie Howard and Igor Levit (whose recording of the cycle I recently reviewed here).

To quote Paul Badura-Skoda:

“Jonathan Del Mar’s Beethoven edition is unparalleled in terms of its precision. What I value most about it is the use of lesser-known or previously unknown sources, the commentary, which is the most extensive to date, and the discussion of problematic sections. I wholeheartedly recommend this new edition of Beethoven piano sonatas.”

So now let’s take a more in-depth look…

Continue reading Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas: the Jonathan Del Mar edition

Paul Harris: Cancer and Positivity

Building a Library

One Saturday morning in March 2018, I learnt that my good friend the composer, author and educator Paul Harris had been rushed to our local hospital emergency department overnight…

Paul had for several months been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a virulent cancer that had already seemed to take so much from him.

He was receiving excellent treatment at The Churchill Hospital in Oxford, but having taken a turn for the worse the previous night, Paul had been instructed to come straight to Milton Keynes, his nearest A&E.

Continue reading Paul Harris: Cancer and Positivity