Easy Concert Pieces for Piano Solo

Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES

Easy Concert Pieces is a brand new series of three piano collections edited by Monika Twelsiek and Rainer Mohrs, and published worldwide by Schott Music. No need to beat around the bush: I really like this series, so let’s take a close look…

The Concept

According to the Preface,

“The Easy Concert Pieces series presents easy piano pieces in progressive order. These pieces are intended to complement a piano tutor method and are particularly suitable for performance and auditions, concerts, competitions and examinations. They offer varied repertoire in a broad selection of pieces from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern eras.”

This is hardly a revolutionary concept, and aside from the many exam-music spin-off books on the market I was immediately reminded of the collection My First Concert, also edited by Monika Twelsiek and published by Schott last year. Indeed, several of the pieces from that collection are included again here, albeit in an enlarged book series, and organised more effectively into order of difficulty.

I must admit that I far prefer the presentation here, too, which I think is very classy indeed. Printed on cream paper and to the same well spaced and clean engraving standards enjoyed in other recent Schott publications, the books are saddle stitched, have simple but very attractive covers, and include full CD recordings of all the pieces.

For the first volume, the performer featured on the recording is Vera Sacharowa, who reappears and is joined from the second volume by Wilhelm Omen. These are well produced, and enjoyable to listen to; pupils will find them helpful for self-selecting pieces, and hearing good models of phrasing and style.

Easy Concert Pieces 1

The rationale for the first collection is summarised by the authors as follows:

“Volume 1 contains pieces in the five-note range and easy pieces spanning a single octave. Other criteria for selection are simple rhythms and very easy chords. Crossing the thumb underneath, playing several parts together and pedalling are not yet required.”

Schott Easy Concert PIeces

From this description, experienced teachers in the UK will immediately peg this book as a suitable transition between the ABRSM Prep Test and Grade 1 level, and indeed it would perfectly suit students at that level.

For even greater clarity, volume 1 is itself split into two halves – the first of which contains only pieces in the five-note range, while the pieces in the second half include different five-note ranges within them, and an easy octave range overall.

And the pieces in each half are grouped chronologically, so that the player can dip into pieces from different periods at will.

Looking at the first half of the book, which contains 21 pieces all within five-note ranges, I was immediately struck by the variety and quality on offer here. Just when I thought that I knew all the five-note pieces ever written, along comes this book, providing many which I have previously overlooked, and including gems that I am now eager to teach!

It is also worth noting that there is a striking range of keys and hand positions here, underpinning the imaginative range of moods conveyed. Excellent!

The second half of the book moves toward more familiar territory (for this writer at least), with familiar fare such as the Musette in D major from Bach’s Anna Magdalena Notebook, Diabelli’s well-worn Three Little Pieces and Schumann’s A Little Piece from the Album for the Young nestling alongside more recent pieces by Fritz Emonts, Gunter Kretschmer, Barbara Heller, Marianne Magolt and Mike Schoenmehl.

Here’s the complete listing:

First half:

  1. M. Praetorius: Old German Dance
  2. J.v.d. Hofe: Canario
  3. A. Reinagle: Minuetto
  4. A. Teinagle: Allegro
  5. C.H. Wilton: Little Sonata
  6. C. Gurlitt: A Midsommer Day’s Song
  7. C. Gurlitt: Dreary Hours
  8. G.F. Humbert: The Hurdy-Gurdy Man
  9. G.F. Humbert: The Train
  10. G.F. Humbert: The Snake Charmer
  11. G.F. Humbert: Tarantella
  12. G.F. Humbert: On The Way
  13. G.F. Humbert: Ragtime
  14. F. Emonts: Dialogue
  15. F. Emonts: Changing Time
  16. M. Tajcevic: Piano Piece for the Young
  17. H. Badings: Basso ostinato
  18. R. Mohrs: Here Comes the Caravan
  19. R. Mohrs: Folk Dance in the Mountains
  20. R. Mohrs: Shepherd’s Melody
  21. H.-G. Heumann: Rock Piano Fever

Second half:

  1. J.H. Schein: Allemande
  2. D. Speer: Aria
  3. J. Krieger: Menuett A minor
  4. C. Graupner: Bourrée E minor
  5. J.-P. Rameau: Menuett D major
  6. J.S. Bach: Musette D major
  7. G.F. Händel: Gavotte C major
  8. D.G. Türk: Four Easy Pieces – D.G. Türk: Entrée
  9. D.G. Türk: Minuetto
  10. D.G. Türk: I am so Dull and Ill
  11. D.G. Türk: A Carefree Fellow
  12. A. Diabelli: Three Little Pieces
  13. A. Diabelli: Allegretto
  14. A. Diabelli: Moderato
  15. A. Diabelli: Vivace
  16. R. Schumann: A Little Piece
  17. F. Spindler: Song Without Words
  18. C. Franck: Dolly’s Complaint
  19. A. Gretchaninoff: Fairy Tale
  20. A. Gretchaninoff: Njanja is Ill
  21. A. Gretchaninoff: A Tiresome Lesson
  22. C. Orff: Dancing Piece
  23. C. Orff: Piano Study – F. Emonts: Tango
  24. F. Emonts: Bagpipes
  25. G. Kretschmer: Elephants
  26. G. Kretschmer: Rainy Weather Blues
  27. B. Heller: Tales from the Arabian Nights
  28. M. Magolt: Holydays
  29. M. Schoenmehl: The Spanish Guitar Player

Easy Concert Pieces 2

According to the editors:

“Volume 2 contains pieces with an extended range of two octaves. Crossing the thumb under, pedal use, simple polyphony and three- or four-part chords all feature here, as do simple ornaments, playing cantabile and differentiating between melody and accompaniment.”

While it’s fair to say that the pieces in volume 1 aren’t exactly devoid of all these qualities, the music here is definitely a step or two more difficult, and would comfortable suit players (and UK exam syllabi) at Grade 2 to Grade 3 level.

Schott Easy Concert Pieces

The pieces are organised in a through format rather than separated by difficulty. Once again, the order of pieces is chronological, so I would suggest teachers and players will want to dip in and out of what’s on offer, using the provided CD as necessary to spot favourites.

This is once again an enjoyable and well-judged selection, and here is the full contents:

  1. F. Couperin: Les coucous bénévoles
  2. C. Petzold: Menuett G major
  3. C. Petzold: Menuett G minor
  4. J.-F. Dandrieu: Gavotte en Rondeau
  5. G.F. Händel: Gavotte G major
  6. G.F. Händel: Chaconne G major
  7. J.S. Bach: Marsch D major
  8. J.S. Bach: Menuett D minor
  9. J.S. Bach: Menuett G major
  10. J.S. Bach: Präludium C major BWV 939
  11. J. Haydn: Menuett F major
  12. W. Duncombe: Hunting Jig
  13. J.B. Vanhal: Sonatina F major
  14. W.A. Mozart: Menuett KV 1e G major
  15. W.A. Mozart: Menuett KV 2 F major
  16. W.A. Mozart: Allegro KV 3 B major
  17. W.A. Mozart: The Sleigh Ride KV 605/3
  18. D. Steibelt: Adagio A minor
  19. Attwood: Sonatine G major
  20. L.v. Beethoven: Sonatine G major
  21. L.v. Beethoven: German Dance C major
  22. L.v. Beethoven: German Dance G major
  23. R. Schumann: Solidier’s March, op. 68/2
  24. R. Schumann: The Merry Peasant, op. 68/10
  25. R. Schumann: Humming Song, op. 68/3
  26. F. Chopin: Polish Song
  27. C. Gurlitt: Theme with Variations, op. 228
  28. C.L.H. Köhler: Sonatine G major
  29. P. Tschaikowsky: Old French Song, op. 39/16
  30. P. Tschaikowsky: The Sick Doll, op. 39/6
  31. P. Tschaikowsky: Dolly’s Funeral, op. 39/7
  32. M. Tajcevic: Cantabile
  33. F. Emonts: Blues
  34. H. Regner: In the Cave
  35. G. Nevada: A Little Dreamy
  36. G. Nevada: When A Dream Drifts Away
  37. J. Moser: Rainy Day
  38. R. Mohrs: The Bewitched Dwarf Awakens
  39. R. Mohrs: Dance of the Dwarfes
  40. R. Mohrs: A Song of Hope
  41. M. Schoenmehl: Criminal Music
  42. M. Schoenmehl: The Somersault King

As with Easy Concert Pieces 1, the consistency here is very high overall, and I particularly like the fact that the book provides a fairly even spread of material from across the centuries.

Easy Concert Pieces 3

“Volume 3 is intended for advanced players who wish to work on expressive playing and individual interpretation. These pieces demand greater fluency and rhythmic control, more advanced articulation and phrasing, polyphonic harmonies (playing several parts even with one hand) and differentiation of tone and touch.”

In terms of the level of the collection, I would suggest intermediate is a better description than advanced – the pieces are roughly equivalent in range to UK grade exams 3-6, with the majority towards the middle to upper part of that range.

Schott Easy Concert Pieces

Speaking of “expressive playing and individual interpretation”, the included CD recording of all the pieces is again delivered here by pianist Vera Sacharowa, and is housed in a plastic sleeve glued to the inside of the rear cover. As with the previous two books, these are essentially demonstration performances with an emphasis on accuracy and clarity rather than indulgence or individuality. Tempi in almost all cases are steady, which is no doubt preferable for helping the student first encountering the pieces, if perhaps less immediately inspiring for students!

The pieces that make up the collection are once more presented in chronological order, defining this as a book to dip into rather than working from cover to cover (as you would a method book). According to the press release,

“These pieces are intended to complement a piano tutorial method and are particularly suitable for performance at auditions, concerts, competitions and examinations. They offer varied repertoire in a broad selection of pieces from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern eras.”

Here is the full list of included pieces:

  1. G.F. Händel: Chaconne D minor HWV 448
  2. J.S. Bach: Praeludium F major BWV 927
  3. J.S. Bach: Praeludium D minor BWV 926
  4. J.S. Bach: Inventio 1 C major BWV 772
  5. J.S. Bach: Inventio 4 D minor BWV 775
  6. W.A. Mozart: Rondeau D major KV 15d
  7. L.v. Beethoven: Bagatelle A minoe, op. 119/9
  8. L.v. Beethoven: Klavierstück “Für Elise” WoO 59
  9. L.v. Beethoven: Sonatina F major
  10. T. Haslinger: Sonatina C major
  11. F. Schubert: Waltz B minor, op. 18/6
  12. F. Burgmüller: Arabesque, op. 100/2
  13. F. Burgmüller: Ballade, op. 100/15
  14. F. Mendelssohn: Romance D minor
  15. R. Schumann: The Wild Horseman, op. 68/8
  16. R. Schumann: Siciliana, op. 68/11
  17. R. Schumann: First Loss, op. 68/16
  18. F. Chopin: Valse A minor BI 150
  19. F. Chopin: Polonaise G minor KK IIa, No. 1
  20. F. Chopin: Mazurka G minor, op. 67/2
  21. F. Chopin: Mazurka F major, op. 68/3
  22. S. Heller: Study A minor, op. 45/2
  23. P.I. Tschaikowsky: Sweet Dreaming, op. 39/21
  24. E. Grieg: Waltz A minor, op. 12/2
  25. C. Debussy: Le Petit nègre (Cakewalk)
  26. E. Satie: Gymnopédie No. 1
  27. E. Satie: Gnossienne No. 2
  28. A. Casella: Siciliana
  29. M. Seiber: Tango I
  30. M. Seiber: Tango II
  31. E. Pütz: Blue Waltz
  32. H. Weiss: Homecoming
  33. H. Weiss: Jumping Dance
  34. R. Mohrs: Prayer for Peace
  35. M. Schoenmehl: Melancholy Reflections
  36. H.G. Heumann: The Sunken Island of Atlantis
  37. V. Mohrs: Hallo Kitty
  38. V. Mohrs: Poor Mouse
  39. V. Mohrs: Cats in Love

As with the two previous books in the series, this offers a varied and balanced selection of core teaching repertoire, and one which should last most students at least a couple of happy years. And it’s useful to see good editions of favourites such as Für EliseGymnopédie No. 1 and Le Petit nègre included alongside less well-known pieces.

Summing Up

Across three books, the Easy Concert Pieces series includes a decent selection of pieces from near-beginner level right up to around Grade 6, nicely edited and beautifully presented.

I would certainly want to use these books alongside some more contemporary repertoire, but overall I think they are likely to become standard collections used in my own teaching practice in the coming months.

But taken as what they are, these books succeed admirably as a series which brilliantly fills its niche, and will have tremendous value to teenage and adult learners working at this level.

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, published composer and author based on Milton Keynes UK.