Sheet Music Review
Reviewing the first two books in this series last year, I concluded:
No need to beat around the bush: I really like this series!
Put simply, the two books so far both include a really appealing range of pieces in varied styles, beautifully presented and well-edited, and with a well recorded CD as a bonus. The first book contains 50 pieces, the second 48, and each has a recommended retail price of just £11.99, which represents excellent value for what’s included.
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. And I can’t wait to see Volume 3 when it comes out!
Since writing that, both books have indeed become resources that I use in my own teaching practice, particularly with older beginner/elementary players, and the students using them have been uniformly enthusiastic.
And now Book 3 is with us, completing the series. So let’s take a look!
The look and feel of the third book in the series matches the other two exactly. The classy cover is a subtly darker shade of brown but otherwise the same, and contains a 72-page staple-bound book, printed on cream paper to the highest standard, exactly as one would expect from publisher Schott Music.
Editing is once again freshly done by Monika Twelsiek and Rainer Mohrs, who introduce the book:
“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.
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 Selected Pieces
The 41 pieces that make up the collection are presented in roughly 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.”
I think the collection would make a fine supplement to Melanie Spanswick’s Play it Again: Piano, also from Schott, and which I recently reviewed here, or to Karen Marshall and Heather Hammond’s Intermediate Pianist series from Faber Music, which I will be reviewing very soon.
Here is the full list of included pieces:
- G.F. Händel: Chaconne D minor HWV 448
- J.S. Bach: Praeludium F major BWV 927
- J.S. Bach: Praeludium D minor BWV 926
- J.S. Bach: Inventio 1 C major BWV 772
- J.S. Bach: Inventio 4 D minor BWV 775
- W.A. Mozart: Rondeau D major KV 15d
- L.v. Beethoven: Bagatelle A minoe, op. 119/9
- L.v. Beethoven: Klavierstück “Für Elise” WoO 59
- L.v. Beethoven: Sonatina F major
- T. Haslinger: Sonatina C major
- F. Schubert: Waltz B minor, op. 18/6
- F. Burgmüller: Arabesque, op. 100/2
- F. Burgmüller: Ballade, op. 100/15
- F. Mendelssohn: Romance D minor
- R. Schumann: The Wild Horseman, op. 68/8
- R. Schumann: Siciliana, op. 68/11
- R. Schumann: First Loss, op. 68/16
- F. Chopin: Valse A minor BI 150
- F. Chopin: Polonaise G minor KK IIa, No. 1
- F. Chopin: Mazurka G minor, op. 67/2
- F. Chopin: Mazurka F major, op. 68/3
- S. Heller: Study A minor, op. 45/2
- P.I. Tschaikowsky: Sweet Dreaming, op. 39/21
- E. Grieg: Waltz A minor, op. 12/2
- C. Debussy: Le Petit nègre (Cakewalk)
- E. Satie: Gymnopédie No. 1
- E. Satie: Gnossienne No. 2
- A. Casella: Siciliana
- M. Seiber: Tango I
- M. Seiber: Tango II
- E. Pütz: Blue Waltz
- H. Weiss: Homecoming
- H. Weiss: Jumping Dance
- R. Mohrs: Prayer for Peace
- M. Schoenmehl: Melancholy Reflections
- H.G. Heumann: The Sunken Island of Atlantis
- V. Mohrs: Hallo Kitty
- V. Mohrs: Poor Mouse
- 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 Elise, Gymnopédie No. 1 and Le Petit nègre included alongside less well-known pieces.
With the addition of this third collection, Schott Music’s Easy Concert Pieces series has developed to include a decent selection of pieces from near-beginner level right up to around Grade 6, nicely edited and beautifully presented.
As I mentioned in my review of the first two books, however, I would generally want to use these books alongside other music, and in particular some more contemporary pieces. And as for other criticisms, I would have liked to see some short written notes about each piece, giving background information and hooking into the players’ imagination, as is now becoming fairly standard in piano collections. Lastly, the presentation here really isn’t going to appeal to younger pianists.
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.
Very highly recommended.
Find out more and purchase online from Schott Music.