Sheet Music Review
Alan Bullard will be known to many readers for his many contributions to popular educational series such as Piano Time from OUP and Piano Star from ABRSM. His Joining the Dots series of sight reading books for ABRSM and the excellent adult piano method series Pianoworks, co-written with his wife Janet, have also become well known favourites.
Alan’s latest publication is brought to us by Colne Edition, distributed by Spartan Press, and is entitled Twelve or Thirteen Preludes for Solo Piano.
Introducing the collection, the composer writes:
“About four years ago I started writing some piano preludes in odd moments between writing other things, partly to play myself, but also for others to play, of around Grade 6-8 standard. They grew into a set of twelve, one in each major key – hardly an original concept, but one which gave me an opportunity to think hard about variety within my self-imposed limit of only two pages per piece!”
Explaining the collection’s title, Alan suggests that the Preludes can be performed separately, but if performed complete they should be played in order, optionally repeating the first prelude at the end to make a set of thirteen. In his recording of the collection, Alan does just this, as you can hear and enjoy here:
The published sheet music has a simple presentation, with a plain gloss white cover (see picture above) containing a 28 page book. Other than the title page and obligatory copyright information, the whole focus is on the notation, which is nicely engraved, well spaced and clear throughout. No fingering is given, so the player must work out their own. The score is nicely detailed however, reflecting Alan’s care as a composer to give clear instructions and musical intention.
These are wonderful little pieces, elegantly combining interesting technical challenges with genuinely idiomatic piano writing, and all marinated in a thoroughly charming and whimsical musical character. What I love most about them is their warmth, imagination, variety and good humour.
The Preludes regularly pay homage to a wide musical language that incorporates many style of modern classical music, as well as tinges of jazz, but always with a unique musical voice that is highly appealing. They will, I have no doubt, be enthusiastically received by players working towards Grade 8.
Their immediacy and excellent playability also makes the Preludes ideal as future exam material, and would be very welcome syllabus additions in my opinion.
Above all they are a joy to play purely for their own delights, and will undoubtedly make attractive additions to concert programmes.
You can of course make up your own mind as you listen to Alan’s own recordings above, and as for the publication it is not only without fault, but also reasonably priced at just £8.95 from the Spartan Music website here.