Hal Leonard’s ‘Classical Piano Sheet Music Series’

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I love it when a music book exceeds my initial expectations, and the three books in Hal Leonard’s new Classical Piano Sheet Music Series score a hat trick on that front.

Between them, these three handsomely presented and well-edited books deliver a very decent survey of Western Classical piano music from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic Eras, and I can warmly recommend them to intermediate pianists and their teachers.

In the review that follows I will include an easy-to-read piece listing for all the pieces in each of the three books, individual purchase links, having first given a general overview of the series…


Series Overview

The first point I noted when these three volumes arrived for review is their coil binding, which I have to confess I generally have mixed feelings about.

Happily these aren’t plastic combs that would spilt, though: they are high quality and I am confident that the books are sturdy and will have a long lifespan. They easily lie flat on the music stand, their pages unlikely to become loose. The main disadvantage is that they are less easy to store in my music cupboard.

The covers are in sturdy card, gloss laminated, and are attractive. The paper within is white, and the books range in length from 88 to 96 pages. Aside from the pieces and a basic contents page, there are no other extras.

The scores themselves are spaciously presented (pieces routinely given one page in exam books are afforded two here…). Composers’ dates are given with their names, but no other background information or playing tips appear. These are essentially quite basic music books, but the presentation allows plenty of margin space for player and teacher annotations.

Editorial Considerations

Moving beyond the classy presentation, what of the editorial content? Putting together compendiums of this nature is a more tricky business than some might imagine, posing numerous challenges. For the most part I am happy with the solutions Hal Leonard have provided in this series.

Firstly, all the pieces seem to have been newly engraved with a consistency of stave size and music font. Editorial fingering (uncredited) is included throughout all three volumes, and is generally very good.

There are a few oddities, such as in Grieg’s Waltz from the Lyric Pieces Op.12, in which the editor here suggests swapping hands for the middle section, an idea which basically works but isn’t the composer’s, and felt oddly unnecessary when I tried it.

Dynamics have been added editorially in the Baroque and Classical pieces where composers didn’t supply them. Pianodao readers will know I prefer a more urtext approach, but at intermediate level many will be pleased to see these, and they are broadly in line with the approach taken by most of the international examination boards.

It’s also good to see that in the Baroque book, explanations of all the ornaments have been included in smaller font above the main staves, again in line with the best educational publications and exam materials.

When it comes to the selection of repertoire, the benchmarking is generally very good too. Billed as intermediate collections, the content here matches the Pianodao description of intermediate, the majority of pieces being around UK Grades 3-5, with just a few outliers on each end of that spectrum.

Some may find the selections a little unimaginative, and note the near absence of music by female composers. These are admittedly very traditional collections, but to be fair they are presented as such.

And now here’s the lists of pieces I promised at the start…


Baroque Era Favourites

The Intermediate Baroque Era Favourites collection is in my view the most rounded of the set, including plenty of music from the beloved Bach family albums, Handel, Scarlatti, and a selection of English and French Baroque pieces:

ANONYMOUS:
Minuet in C minor, BWV Appendix 121
Minuet in D minor, BWV Appendix 132
Minuet in G Major, BWV Appendix 116
Musettein D Major, BWV Appendix 126

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH:
March in D Major, BWV Appendix 122
March in G Major, BWV Appendix 124
Solfegietto in C minor, H. 220

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH:
Invention No. 1 in C Major, BWV 772
Invention No. 2 in C minor, BWV 773
Invention No. 4 in D minor, BWV 775
Prelude in C Major, BWV 846
Prelude in C Major, BWV 924
Prelude in C Major, BWV 939
Prelude in C minor, BWV 999
Prelude in D minor, BWV 926

WILHELM FRIEDMANN BACH:
Allegro in A Major

JOHN BLOW:
Courante in C Major
Prelude in C Major

ARCANGELO CORELLI:
Gavotta in F Major

FRANCOIS COUPERIN:
Benevolent Cuckoos Under Yellow Dominos
Berceuse

JEAN-FRANCOIS DANDRIEU:
Lament

LOUISE-CLAUDE DAQUIN:
The Cuckoo

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL:
Courante in G Major
Minuet in F Major
Rigaudon in G Major
Sarabande, HWV 437

JOHANN PACHELBEL:
Sarabande in B-flat Major

CHRISTIAN PETZOLD:
Minuet in G Major, BWV Anh. 114
Minuet in G minor, BWV Anh. 115

HENRY PURCELL:
Suite No. 1 in G Major

JEAN PHILIPPE RAMEAU:
Tambourin

ALESSANDRO SCARLATTI:
Aria in D minor

DOMENICO SCARLATTI:
Minuet from Sonata in C Major, L. 217 (K. 73b, P. 80)
Sonata in A Major, L. 483 (K. 322, P. 360)
Sonata in A minor, L. 378 (K. 3)
Sonata in D minor, L. 423 (K. 32, P. 14)
Sonata in G Major, L. 79 (K. 391, P. 364)

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN:
Dance in G Major




Classical Era Favourites

The Intermediate Classical Era Favourites collection includes an enviable introduction to the Sonatina repertoire, with examples by Beethoven, Clementi, Diabelli, Dussek and Kuhlau.

On the other hand, Haydn’s representation is rather paltry, and I would have preferred the inclusion of the whole of Mozart’s K545, not just the opening movement. While I like Beethoven’s German Dances as much as anyone, some will be disappointed by the omission of Lustig-Traurig and Für Elise

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN:
Contradance in C Major, WoO 14, No. 1
Ecossaise in G Major, WoO 23
German Dance in G Major, WoO 8, No. 6
German Dance in C Major, WoO 8, No. 7
German Dance in B-flat Major, WoO 13, No. 2
Minuet in G Major, WoO 10, No. 2
Sonatina in G Major, Anh. 5, No. 1

MUZIO CLEMENTI:
Sonatina in C Major 36, No. 1
Sonatina in C Major, Op. 36, No. 3

ANTON DIABELLI:
Sonatina in G Major, Op. 151, No. 1
Sonatina in C Major, Op. 168, No. 3

JAN LADISLAV DUSSEK:
Sonatina in G Major, Op. 20, No. 1

FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN:
Allegro from Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI/1
Arietta from Variations in E-flat Major, Hob. XVII/3

FRIEDRICH KUHLAU:
Sonatina in C Major, Op. 55, No. 1
Sonatina in C Major,Op. 55, No. 3

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART:
Adagio for Glass Harmonica, K. 356 (617a)
Allegro from Sonata in C Major, K. 545 (Sonata facile)
Andantino in E-flat Major, K. 236 (588b)
Contradance in G Major, K. 15e
Funeral March for Signor Maestro Contrapunto, K. 45a
German Dance in C Major, K. 605, No. 3
Piece for Clavier in F Major, K. 33B
Rondo in C Major, K. 334 (320b)




Romantic Era Favourites

Perhaps inevitably, the Intermediate Romantic Era Favourites selections come to be dominated by the Albums for the Young by Schumann and Tchaikovsky, both of which are well represented.

It is good to see such a range of other pieces too, including some of the popular Burgmüller Op.100 studies, To a Wild Rose and an appealing selection of the easiest pieces by Chopin, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Schubert:

AMY BEACH:
Gavotte in D minor, Op.36, No.2

JOHANNES BRAHMS:
Waltz in A-flat major, Op.39, No.15

JOHANN FRIEDRICH BURGMÜLLER:
Ballade, Op.100, No.15
Confidence, Op.109, No.1
Restlessness, Op.100, No.18
Sincerity, Op.100, No.1

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN:
Mazurka in F Major, Op.68, No.3
Prelude in E Minor, Op.28, No.4
Prelude in B Minor, Op.28, No.6
Prelude in D-flat Major, Op.28, No.15 “Raindrop”

ALBERT ELLMENREICH:
Spinning Song, Op.14, No.5

EDVARD GRIEG:
Arietta, Op.12, No.1
Waltz, Op.12, No.2
|Dance of the Elves, Op.12, No.4
Solitary Traveller, Op.43, No.2
Puck, Op.71, No.3

STEPHEN HELLER:
The Avalanche, Op.45, No.2
Scampering, Op.47, No.1

THEODOR KULLAK
Grandmother Tells a Ghost Story, Op.81, No.3

EDWARD MacDOWELL
To a Wild Rose, Op.51, No.1

FELIX MENDELSSOHN:
Consolation, Op.30, No.3

CARL NIELSEN:
Folk Melody

FRANZ SCHUBERT:
Waltz in A-flat Major, Op.9, No.12
Waltz in B Minor, Op.18, No.6

ROBERT SCHUMANN:
Of Strange Lands and People, Op.15, No.1
An Important Event, Op.15, No.6
Traumerei, Op.15, No.7
Melody, Op.68, No.1
Soldier’s March, Op.68, No.2
Humming Song, Op.68, No.3
Little Piece, Op.68, No.5
Hunting Song, Op.68, No.7
The Wild Horseman, Op.68, No.8
The Happy Farmer Returning from Work, Op.68, No.10
Little Study, Op.68, No.14
First Loss, Op.68, No.16
The Reaper’s Song, Op.68, No.18

PYOTR IL’YICH TCHAIKOVSKY:
Morning Prayer, Op.39, No.1
Mamma, Op.39, No.4
The Sick Doll, Op.39, No.6
The Doll’s Burial, Op.39, No.8
The New Doll, Op.39, No.9
Italian Song, Op.39, No.15
Old French Song, Op.39, No.16
Sweet Dream, Op.39, No.21
The Organ-Grinder Sings, Op.39, No.23
In Church, Op.39, No.24



Concluding Thoughts…

Those in the market for a solid collection of established pieces from each of these eras will find these books offer excellent value. For around £12 a throw, they include a wealth of well-established musical material, sympathetically edited and nicely put together.

For newer teachers wanting an overview of popular pedagogic repertoire, players looking to explore the styles and genres of these eras, and diploma candidates searching a useful quick study preparation material, they can be very highly recommended.


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Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is the author of HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC, published worldwide by Hal Leonard. He is a widely respected piano educator and published composer based on Milton Keynes UK.