22 Nocturnes for Chopin

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

A few months ago I brought exciting news of a project developed by Elena Cobb of EVC Music and RNCM final-year student Rose McLachlan. A “Call to Women Composers” was extended worldwide, with a brief to compose a new piano piece inspired by the beloved Nocturnes of Chopin.

You can read all about it here. And you will learn in that post that I was subsequently invited to Chair the Selection Committee which also included the concert pianist and teacher Kathryn Page, recording artist Anna Heller, and ISM President Vick Bain.

Having played a role in this project, I cannot of course review the resulting publication with the same independence of perspective that I usually offer.

Nevertheless, I am pleased to let you know that the resulting publication is now available worldwide, and makes an exciting addition to the Pianodao Music Library

Let me begin with a recap of the pieces which the committee selected from the dozens that were submitted.

The publication includes 16 chosen from those submissions, with 6 more that have been specially composed by established names, who will probably be familiar to many Pianodao readers already.

Here is the list of pieces, now presented in the order in which they now appear in the publication:

  • Nocturne Autumn [Agnieszka Lasko]
  • Nocturne As They Come and Go [Nitzan Vardi]
  • Nocturne [Alanna Crouch]
  • Nocturne For a Winter’s Night [Dianna Neufeld]
  • Nocturne Pregando [Marlowe Carruth]
  • Nocturne For Lora [Wendy Edwards Beardall-Norton]
  • Nocturne [Jennifer Bowman]
  • Nocturne Thinking of Frédéric [Heather Hammond]
  • Nocturne [Caroline Tyler]
  • Nocturne Sweet Sorrow [June Armstrong]
  • Nocturne Like the Night [Helen Walker]
  • Nocturne Triste [Victoria Proudler]
  • Nocturne The Moth [Lucy Hackett]
  • Nocturne Reflections [Caroline Wright]
  • Nocturne La ballerine solitaire [Stephenie Leung]
  • Nocturne Cerddorieth i Bronwyn [Katie Jenkins]
  • Nocturne Moonlight on the Waves [Charlotte Butler]
  • Nocturne Waves Collide with the Precipice… [Charlotte Botterill]
  • Nocturne [Nicole DiPaolo]
  • Nocturne Elegy [Olga Berman]
  • Nocturne Fred and Bertie’s Night-Time Stroll [Nancy Litten]
  • Nocturne [Zoe Rahman]

Though there is a gentle progression in difficulty, all the pieces here would be suitable for players between Early Advanced and First Diploma level, and the majority are comfortably ideal of players around UK Grade 7-8.

You can listen to all 22 pieces and read short biographies of their composers on the EVC Music website here.

It was a special delight in selecting the pieces that these composers all succeeded in imprinting their music with a personalised stamp while also paying clear tribute to Chopin’s work. More overt in some pieces than others, his influence is undeniably tangible throughout. That these selections also clearly belong to the 21st century is equally a boon, and further adds to their consistent appeal and contemporary relevance.

It would be inappropriate to highlight personal favourites, but suffice to say that the 22 pieces included here met with a strong consensus from the whole Selection Committee, and even though we each had a few pieces which we were especially keen to fight for, the final selection offers a potpourri that we agree deserve and are highly likely to enjoy very wide appeal.

It is equally my expectation that these pieces will grace recital programmes, festival and exam lists in the coming years, and find an enduring place in the musical life of the piano community. There’s no doubt in my mind that an investment in this collection is one that will well and truly pay off for any advanced pianist, and that many of these works will quickly establish themselves as firm favourites in the repertoire.

As well as providing a unique and compelling launch for the careers of the many new composers featured, 22 Nocturnes for Chopin marks, in my view, a “coming of age” for EVC Music.

With 68 pages within, this 50th entry in Elena Cobb’s growing catalogue is by far the largest and most significant that EVC Music has yet produced, the publisher clearly using the scope of the project as an opportunity to scale new heights in publishing quality and excellence.

The front cover is (as ever) striking, if on this occasion tastefully appealing for a more adult audience than the educational publications that EVC is best known for. Turning within, we are greeted by luxury cream paper and an editing and engraving aesthetic that in my view compares favourably alongside the most revered music publishing houses.

The scores themselves are spaciously and elegantly presented, with helpful and sufficiently detailed fingering suggestions included throughout.

It was of course a wonderful honour to be invited to serve in the selection of these works. That the finished product offers the 22 brilliant Nocturnes with such accomplished finesse further adds to my joy at the collection’s release. How appropriate that such superb music is given so enduring a presentation: this really is a book to cherish.

22 Nocturnes for Chopin is in my view a landmark publication, one which deserves to make a huge mark in our musical lives, and which I believe will make a seminal impact in the piano world. Don’t miss it!

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Andrew Eales

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