Greater in Major, Finer in Minor

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Over the decades, Breitkopf have steadily grown their Pädagogik imprint to include a delightful range of colourful collections, often with an emphasis on creative education and inspiration.

Now, the editors of their once hugely-popular Keyboard Crocodile collection have dived into the vast pool of the intermediate piano repertoire and surfaced with 33 treasured pieces in minor keys, Toll in Moll (Finer in Minor) and another 33 in major keys, Toll in Dur (Greater in Major).

The two collections are quite simply stunning, perhaps the most superbly presented late intermediate collections I have ever seen. The wide range of music is suitable for intermediate players from around UK Grades 3-6, but predominantly around Grade 5. There’s enough consistently good repertoire here to keep players going for quite some time.

Suitable for all ages, the books are available separately or as the discounted pack shown above, and reviewed here. It must be noted however that these are luxury publications which come with a premium price tag; I will explain later in the review why I think many should and will still be very tempted…

Toll in Moll: Finer in Minor

Turning first to Toll in Moll, this book appeared in a simpler version some years ago and was hugely popular. The music was selected and edited by the Keyboard Crocodile team comprising Karin Daxböck, Elisabeth Haas, Rosemarie Röll, Martina Schneider and Veronika Weinhandl.

For this updated version, Martina Schneider also delivers the colour artworks throughout. And indeed, it’s impossible to even consider the content before marvelling at the lush presentation, so extravagant does it appear when compared to just about any other intermediate piano collection I’ve seen.

Soft matt covers open to a 68-page book, with colour illustrations on every page throughout. Unlike the books for children at a lower level, these are abstract in nature, and in most cases serve merely as a colourful footer to each page. Somehow, though, they make the book insanely inviting, and I have to confess to flicking through it several times before actually raising my eyes to find out what music was also printed within these pages!

And here’s the list:

  • Fuga [Georg Philipp Telemann]
  • Prelude [Johann Sebastian Bach]
  • Solfeggietto [Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach]
  • Sonatina [Georg Anton Benda]
  • Menuetto [Joseph Haydn]
  • Shepherd’s Lament [Johann Friedrich Reichardt]
  • Für Elise [Ludwig van Beethoven]
  • Waltz [Franz Schubert]
  • Valsenoble [Franz Schubert]
  • Etude [Henri Bertini]
  • Etude [Charles Mayer]
  • Thunderstorm [Friedrich Burgmüller]
  • Venetian Gondola Song [Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy]
  • Valse [Frédéric Chopin]
  • Knecht Ruprecht [Robert Schumann]
  • Fantasy Dance [Robert Schumann]
  • Prélude [Charles Gounod]
  • Brownies [Nicolai von Wilm]
  • A Tear [Modest Mussorgskij]
  • Little Forest Bird [Heinrich Hofmann]
  • Mélodie [Jules Massenet]
  • Goblin [Edvard Grieg]
  • Arabesque [Gennari Karganoff]
  • Merman [Ludvig Schytte]
  • Prélude [Henryk Pachulski]
  • Poco agitato [Samuil Majkapar]
  • Preludium [Feliks Rybicki]
  • Winter Evening [Konstantin Sorokin]
  • Deep Blue C [John Kember]
  • Rumba Romantica [Gerald Schwertberger]
  • The Detective [Herman Beeftink]
  • Melancholy Reflections [Mike Schoenmehl]
  • Disco Visit [Mike Schoenmehl]

Those who may have encountered an older edition of this collection from a few years ago will spot that for this new publication the book hasn’t simply been given a fresh coat of paint, but includes a revised, updated and expanded list of pieces.

What is striking here is the breath and range of the music on offer, with a healthy selection of the most enjoyable and accessible pieces from the Baroque and Classical eras mixing with Romantic gems, imaginative 20th century and fun jazzy pieces. There isn’t a piece here you will want to ignore or miss out.

In terms of the scores themselves, the music notation is beautifully engraved, and has an “urtext” feel without the addition of editorial dynamics. A good amount of fingering is included throughout however. With an emphasis on letting the visuals and music work their own magic, sources of the pieces aren’t included in the main body of the book, but in the contents page we can find opus numbers, composers’ dates and more.

Rounding off this edition, MP3 audio tracks of the pieces, performed by Ai Sakae, are available for free download from the publisher’s website. These are tastefully and imaginatively performed, and superbly recorded.

Toll in Dur: Greater in Major

Toll in Dur is an all-new collection compiled, edited and again with artworks by Martina Schneider. Building on the success of the original Toll in Moll the collection again features 33 pieces:

  • The Whirlwinds [Jean-François Dandrieu]
  • Prelude from Partita V [Johann  Kuhnau]
  • Gavotte [Domenico Zipoli]
  • The Triumph [Johann Nicolaus Tischer]
  • Presto [Baldassare Galuppi]
  • Allegro [Wilhelm Friedemann Bach]
  • Divertimento [Georg Christoph Wagenseil]
  • Fantasia [Johann Wilhelm Hässler]
  • Préludevarié [Johann Wilhelm Hässler]
  • Youthful Briskness [Daniel Gottlob  Türk]
  • Allegro [Joseph  Haydn]
  • Allegro scherzando [Johann Georg Witthauer]
  • Variations on an Austrian Folksong excerpts [Friedrich Kuhlau]
  • Morning Bell [Johann Friedrich Burgmüller]
  • Dreamery [Cornelius  Gurlitt]
  • Postlude [Cornelius  Gurlitt]
  • Sostenuto [Frédéric  Chopin]
  • In the Evening [Heinrich  Hofmann]
  • Watchman’s Song [Edvard  Grieg]
  • Scherzo [Edmund  Parlow]
  • The Narrator [Richard Krentzlin]
  • The Entry of the Marionettes [Samuil Majkapar]
  • Valse lente [Oskar Merikanto]
  • In the Fields [Reinhold Glière]
  • The Sewing Machine [Jacques  Ibert]
  • Dance [Dmitri Kabalewskij]
  • Sunset [William Gillock]
  • New Orleans Blues [William Gillock]
  • Attention Seeker [Christopher Norton]
  • Step Time [John  Kember]
  • On the Line [Christopher Norton]
  • Pop Prelude [Daniel Hellbach]
  • Concerto for Julia [Mike Schoenmehl]

Once again, there is a real mix of style, period and genre here. What is common throughout is the consistency of musical quality and imagination.

Suffice to say that all my comments about the presentation, music engraving and editing in Toll in Moll equally apply here. The book is, in a word, fantastic.

A Balanced Pack

While each of these two books offer superb and varied selections of music, I cannot but recommend that any player explore music in both major and minor keys! Toll in Dur provides the ‘yang’ to Toll in Moll’s ‘yin’.

So I am happy to report that Breitkopf have released a pack including both publications together. The “pack” arrives as a simple but high-quality card wrap-around featuring the artwork from the series, within which both books can nicely snuggle up. More than mere packaging, I will certainly be keeping the books together in this sleeve.

Whether or not the books justify the high asking price will of course vary depending on circumstances. In the books’ favour, they combine to include 66 consistently superb pieces that will keep a student busy over a few years. That’s less than 50p a piece, and I cannot overstate my belief that players will want to lap up every piece included.

All of which makes these books rather unusual even before we consider the fact that their superb presentation elevates them to the status of ‘artwork’ in their own right. While checking students and parents are okay with the price, I will certainly be recommending the pairing to players, confident that they will actually get outstanding value.

Teachers who own much of the material already might be more circumspect about acquiring their own copy, but I must caution: once seen, once smitten! Indeed, every time I encounter a new collection from Breitkopf, I find myself scouring their website for anything I’ve missed. With so many genuine gems, don’t overlook their superb catalogue.

Toll in Moll, Toll in Dur is a brilliant place to start your exploration…

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based in Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.