The Piano Playlist

Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES

The Piano Playlist is an anthology of 50 popular classics in easy solo piano arrangements by Barrie Carson Turner, published by Schott Music. According to the publishers,

“Taking the concept of the ‘playlist’ from the world of digital streaming, the book presents a carefully chosen selection of the world’s favourite classical pieces for today’s student and amateur musicians.
Including works from the symphonic, operatic and solo repertoire, this collection will provide hours of enjoyable music making. From the relaxing to the dramatic and the uplifting to the melancholic, there’s music for every mood and occasion.”

I included a short review of this when it first appeared, but having now used it successfully with adult students I am pleased to offer a more detailed look and recommendation …

The Publication

The Piano Playlist is a high quality production, with an attractive glossy cover, staple binding that opens and sits nicely on the music stand, and clear printing on cream paper. Being brand new arrangements (unlike some compilations), the engraving and editorial values are consistent throughout the collection – and are excellent.

Piano Playlist Schott

The book appears within a series that also includes The Flute PlaylistThe Violin Playlist and The Cello Playlist, all of which also share a visual consistency, making a highly attractive series, all with Barrie Carson Turner as editor.

The Arrangements

I have admired Barrie Carson Turner’s previous collections of arrangements, which include several books in the Schott World Music series, so was interested to see what music he would select here, and how effective his arrangements would prove to be.

In terms of the former there is no shortage of surprises. Jerusalem, the Ride of the Valkyries and the Adagietto from Mahler’s 5th Symphony nestle between the more predictable Morning from Peer GyntBlue Danube Waltz and Bach’s Air on the G string.

In terms of the latter, what impresses me about Barrie’s arrangements is his attention to detail. For example in his simplification of Debussy’s Clair de lune he retains the ambiguous 9/8 rhythm for the opening. His careful organisation of the chromatic harmonies of the Romantic works – as well as his attention to piano chord voicings that reflect the original orchestral textures where appropriate – is admirable.

There are a few notable exceptions, where the arrangements seem to wilfully discard their sources. Replacing the tritone diabolus in musica intervals from the opening of Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre with perfect fifths, for example, seems to miss the point. And arrangements will always generate a mixed response from the purists.

But I have to be honest – I really enjoyed playing through the whole book, in spite of any minor reservations about the treatment of a few pieces along the way!

What Level?

My only real concern is that the cover states that the pieces are suitable for Grades 1-4, a claim I feel is perhaps a little misleading.

I’m struggling to identify anything within The Piano Playlist which is much below Grade 3, bearing in mind key signatures, hand span, inner texture and general complexity.

  • In this regard it’s worth mentioning that many pieces require at least an octave stretch, sometimes with additional harmony notes.
  • Legato pedalling is also needed for satisfactory musical results in most pieces, although no pedalling indications are given.
  • Similarly, no fingering suggestions are included at all, even though these would surely be welcomed by enthusiastic amateur players reading through the pieces on their own.

Overall, I would say that the pieces are actually most suitable for players between around Grades 3 to 6 – and it is players at this level to whom I am warmly recommending the publication.


I really must stress, however, that I think this book is a real delight. For enthusiastic adult players in particular it would be a great purchase or gift.

My students are enjoying dipping in, and given the quantity and quality of material included I suspect they are likely to continue exploring its treasures for many moons to come!

PIANODAO TEA ROOM members receive 20% DISCOUNT on
all sheet music purchases from MUSICROOM • FIND OUT MORE

All products featured on Pianodao are independently selected by Andrew Eales.
However, when you buy something through the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, without affecting the price you pay.

Andrew’s essential handbook of practising tips:

PIANODAO includes more than 600 articles and reviews,
which are free for everyone, everywhere to access and read.
Please support the site by making a small donation.

Published by

Andrew Eales

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

Please leave a Comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.