Last year, I praised the first two books in Faber Music’s glossy new set, the Easy Piano Series – covering Shows and Film music. Now the series has grown to include Classical, and a fourth book snappily called Pop is scheduled to follow later in the year.
In my previous review I noted:
“There is always room on the music shelf for easy piano arrangements of well-known and popular songs – players of all ages naturally find it encouraging and enjoyable to tackle tunes that are familiar to them, their family and friends.”
The Classical book in the series follows a similar philosophy, offering 16 pieces with an emphasis on simplified arrangements of some of the best-loved melodies of all time, and with a few original versions of easy pieces thrown in for good measure.
Let’s explore the collection …
Firstly then, here is a list of the included titles:
- J.S. Bach: Air on the G String
- Schubert: Ave Maria
- Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusic
- Purcell: Air in D minor
- Beethoven: Für Elise
- Bizet: Habanera (from Carmen)
- Dvořák: Largo (from New World Symphony)
- Holst: I Vow to Thee, My Country
- Mozart: Menuett in F
- J.S. Bach: Minuet in G
- Di Capua: O Sole Mio
- Beethoven: Ode to Joy (from Symphony No.9)
- J.S. Bach: Prelude in C (from The Well Tempered Klavier)
- Tchaikovsky: Waltz (from Swan Lake)
- Clarke: Trumpet Voluntary
- Schubert: The Trout
The Purcell (4), Mozart (9) and Bach (10 and 13) titles are those composers’ originals, while Für Elise (5) includes, unsimplified, the first page of the Beethoven original. The rest of the pieces are new easy arrangements.
This is obviously a fabulous selection, which includes many of the tunes elementary pianists look forward to learning. Indeed, there’s surely no doubt that this compendium is every bit as attractive as the earlier Film and Shows titles in the series.
Good news regarding the publication, too! It has all the strengths of the previous titles, while avoiding the minor weaknesses that I noted in my previous review of them.
Specifically, the arrangements here are more consistently suited to players at around the advertised Grade 1-2 level (Bach’s Prelude in C being the obvious exception), and the fingering suggestions throughout this new collection are more consistently helpful.
And they are great arrangements, which keep the essence of the originals while nicely adapting the music to suit the level of the player. It is a pity that the arrangers are not credited; they certainly deserve praise!
My only small niggle is that the term con pedals graces some of the pieces; at this level, including full pedal marks would perhaps have been more help.
As for the overall presentation, it’s great. The cover is superbly vivid and contemporary, and the notation is well-spaced and nicely engraved.
As with the other books in the series, there are no extras here; this is strictly a music book rather than a tuition course. Teachers will no doubt want to expand on the content in lessons, explaining the context and background of the pieces, for example, or devising suitable supporting exercises where needed.
This is an easy book to review, because it does exactly what it claims, and the results are excellent.
Of course, teachers will probably be aware of several competing products. Many of the better method series include repertoire collections offering similar material, and collections such as ABRSM’s Piano Mix and Faber Music’s own Simply Classics (Peter Gritton) offer similarly tasteful arrangements of classical favourites.
The attraction here is that the concise selection really hits the nail on the head, is beautifully presented, and the arrangements are great. More than most alternatives, too, this book has a grown-up look and feel that will appeal to adult learners.
Faber’s Easy Piano Series is shaping up to be something rather special, and I look forward to seeing the next title, Pop, and reviewing it here later in the year! As for Classical … it’s great!
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