Sibelius: Three Sonatinas Op.67

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) is best known for his seven Symphonies, ever-popular Tone Poems and brilliant Violin Concerto; many pianists are unaware that he also wrote prolifically for our instrument.

Although Finland’s greatest composer famously declared that he didn’t like the piano and only composed for the instrument to generate income, he wrote more than 150 solo works, predominantly miniatures, and in many cases works of tremendous musical value and appeal.

Among these many works, the Three Sonatinas Op.67 are later pieces which fully embody the compressed craftsmanship and musical language of the mature Sibelius.

Published by Breitkopf & Hārtel, the benchmark edition is the Complete Edition of Jean Sibelius Works, series V Works for Piano, edited by Karl Kilpeläinen and published in 2008. Happily, Breitkopf have now released the Three Sonatinas as an individual folio, the subject of this review…

Continue reading Sibelius: Three Sonatinas Op.67

Alexis Ffrench: ‘Truth’

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Alexis Ffrench’s star has continued to rise since my review of Hal Leonard’s Alexis Ffrench: The Sheet Music Collection a couple of years ago.

Last year Ffrench became Composer in Residence with Scala Radio; readers will be still more interested in the recent announcement of his appointment as the new Artistic Director of ABRSM, the music examination board, a role of which he has enthusiastically said,

“I can’t wait to start working with ABRSM’s Chief Executive, Chris Cobb, and his wonderful team in service of teachers and learners all over the world!”

On the creative front, Ffrench recently released his latest album on Sony. Truth introduces thirteen brand new tracks, including collaborations with singer Leona Lewis, guitarist Jin Oki, and with the lush backing of a 70-piece orchestra.

According to the artist,

“In writing these pieces, as we were all locked down, I imagined what the world would look like if we all asked ourselves the question “who am I and what is my purpose in the world?” and what we, as a human race, could create and change together. Out of that intensely personal moment, and as a reaction to feelings I could barely fathom at the time, these songs were born – as an elegy to the audacity of hope.”


Hal Leonard have just published the official sheet music folio of all the tracks from the album in solo piano transcriptions, the subject of this review…

Continue reading Alexis Ffrench: ‘Truth’

Liszt’s Late Pieces 1880-1885

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was undoubtedly a towering giant among the pianist-composers of the nineteenth century, but the significance of his late piano pieces has been the subject of much debate.

On the one hand these works are considered heralds of the elderly Liszt’s waning inspiration; on the other, they are often praised as visionary pieces, stark in their radical simplicity, bold in their chromaticism and opaque relationship to the highly evolved tonal system of their time.

Dusting off some of these most remarkable compositions, a new edition by Michael Kube has recently been published by Bärenreiter, which deserves investigation by players, teachers and academics alike…

Continue reading Liszt’s Late Pieces 1880-1885

The Mosaic Series

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Mosaic is a series currently comprising four music books, each showcasing fresh and varied repertoire newly commissioned and composed by piano educators from around the world.

The pieces are loosely graded, arranged in order of difficulty, compiled as books suitable for elementary, intermediate and advanced players, and published by Editions Musica Ferrum. A fifth book (reaching towards Grade 8 level) is currently planned.

I am honoured to be one of the composers featured in all four books, alongside such well-established names as Barbara Arens, Ben Crosland, June Armstrong and others.

The collections are a natural addition to the Pianodao Music Library, and while I obviously cannot ‘review’ them in quite the usual way, this article will introduce the series with an overview of the concept, several recordings, and hopefully sufficient information for readers to decide whether to take a closer look.

Continue reading The Mosaic Series

Barbara Arens: One Hand Piano

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


The Pianodao Music Library includes several collections by educator and composer Barbara Arens, and regular readers will know I am a fan.

It has been a little while since she last brought us a new collection with a major publishing house, so I am delighted to be reviewing her latest from the world’s oldest music publisher Breitkopf and Hārtel, who are also the company with whom she has the longest history.

One Hand Piano 2 is the sequel to One Hand Piano, Arens’ only Breitkopf publication not previously reviewed on Pianodao, so I am going to make the most of the opportunity to review both books here. Each volume contains 40 pieces for Left or Right hand alone, and as she so often does, Arens has identified a niche and brilliantly filled it…

Continue reading Barbara Arens: One Hand Piano

Phillip Keveren’s Three-Minute Encores

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


“As the last note hangs in the air, there is a magical moment when an audience will, once in a while, decide they want to hear more! Not a lot more, mind you. The clock is ticking and the babysitter can only stay until 10 pm. But, can we make this evening last just a little longer?”

So enthuses ace arranger Phillip Keveren in the preface to his latest collection from Hal Leonard, the cunningly conceived Three-Minute Encores.

Keveren will be known to regular Pianodao readers from my reviews of his superb Piano Calm (reviewed here) and Circles (reviewed here), both of which have become absolute studio essentials here, favourites with multiple students, and are among the most-used collections I have ever reviewed.

One of America’s leading arrangers, Keveren has also delivered literally dozens of other books for Hal Leonard, collectively The Phillip Keveren Series, to which this new issue belongs. And it’s another corker, so let’s investigate…

Continue reading Phillip Keveren’s Three-Minute Encores

Górecki: Piano Album

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933-2010) has come to be regarded as one of the most important composers of the second half of the twentieth century, significantly due to the astonishing commercial success of his Third Symphony, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (1976).

A leading figure in Poland’s avant-garde in the 1960’s to ’70’s, Górecki was inspired by (among others) Webern, Messiaen, Stockhausen, and his compatriot Krzysztof Penderecki (who was just two weeks his senior), although his later work transitioned toward a more tonal approach, the Third Symphony marking an important staging post in that musical metamorphosis.

Boosey & Hawkes, long at the forefront of bringing contemporary piano music to market, have recently issued a new collection of Górecki’s more modest pieces for the instrument. The Piano Album is edited by the composer’s daughter, concert pianist Anna Górecka, and offers a fascinating and approachable snapshot of his evolving art…

Continue reading Górecki: Piano Album

Couperin’s Troisième Livre

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Reviewing the new Denis Herlin edition of the Second Livre of Pièces de Clavecin by François Couperin ‘le grand’ (1668-1733) when it was published by Bärenreiter back in 2019, I concluded:

Occasionally I receive for review a volume that is, quite simply, above any reproach. This is one such edition. For any harpsichord player, this must surely be an essential and immediate purchase; for pianists keen to explore this too-little-known keyboard repertoire, this new edition must also be the one to seek out and highly prize.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE

Three years later, and the next volume of this incomparable benchmark edition has appeared, and once again I have no hesitation in lavishing it with praise…

Continue reading Couperin’s Troisième Livre

Ludovico Einaudi: Cinema

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Ludovico Einaudi’s music continues to divide opinion, often derided by those whose preferred music is less accessible, while fêted by fans and adored by enthusiastic pianists, students and audiences around the world. And along the way, his music has perhaps nowhere found a wider (or more lucrative) embrace that in the movie theatre…

Cinema appeared as a CD album about a year ago, and features 28 of Einaudi’s memorable works from film and television, including tracks from the Oscar-winning ‘Nomadland’ and ‘The Father’. The sheet music folio from publishers Chester Music is now with us, the subject of this review, in which I will also consider a separate publication of the music from the Nomadland soundtrack…

Continue reading Ludovico Einaudi: Cinema

Women Composers: A Graded Anthology

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Hot on the heels of Karen Marshall’s lovingly curated HerStory from Faber Music, which I recently reviewed here, Schott Music bring us three brilliantly compiled and vividly presented collections of music by neglected female composers past and present.

Melanie Spanswick’s Women Composers: A Graded Anthology is equally as groundbreaking, and being a larger series these books offer space to a wider and more diverse range of repertoire, particularly in their inclusion of playful jazz and 20th century piano works.

It is interesting to note that of the 30 works in Marshall’s book and the 52 more here, not only are there no actual duplicates, but few of the composers themselves appear twice, an extraordinary confirmation (were it needed) that the pool of neglected music by female composers is a deep one indeed.

So let’s cast an eye over Spanswick’s series…

Continue reading Women Composers: A Graded Anthology

Music from Minecraft

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


When I heard that Hal Leonard were bringing out a Music from Minecraft solo piano album, I was intrigued but unsure what to expect, not least because while interested in the concept of the game, I haven’t actually played it.

The music is composed by Daniel Rosenfeld, a German electronic composer and sound engineer who performs under the moniker C418. Rosenfeld began creating music on his computer as a teenager, and by the age of twenty had an established growing career.

Rosenfeld’s music for Minecraft was created when he was in his early twenties, and has been released on two albums in conjunction with the game itself: Minecraft Alpha (2011) and the longer, lusher Minecraft Beta (2013).

The present sheet music publication draws twenty pieces from across both those albums, presenting solo piano transcriptions suitable for intermediate to advanced players. The target audience will predominantly be teenagers and young adults who play the game, and that’s a huge target!

So let’s take a look…

Continue reading Music from Minecraft

Six Preludes About Time

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


It’s about time I reviewed About Time: Six Piano Preludes by the well-known British composer Mark Goddard.

Published by EVC Music back in 2018, this intriguing collection of miniatures with latin subtitles initially slipped under my radar. Following EVC’s new partnership with Hal Leonard I have been re-examining their catalogue, and have been delighted to discover About Time, which makes an excellent addition to the growing Pianodao Music Library

Continue reading Six Preludes About Time

“HerStory”: The Piano Collection

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Best-selling author Karen Marshall has been a driving force behind some of the most popular and useful piano education titles of recent years, including the Piano Star and Encore series (both ABRSM), Get Set! Piano method books (Collins Music) and Piano Trainer series (Faber Music).

To get the measure of this achievement, you can browse and read all of my previous reviews of Marshall’s work by clicking on this tag.

Marshall’s latest project is HerStory from Faber Music, and will appeal to a wider catchment of piano players beyond the education market, being a compilation of 30 works by female composers who thus far have not received the recognition they have deserved. But HerStory is so much more than simply another repertoire collection, as I will explain in this review.

Continue reading “HerStory”: The Piano Collection

An Expedition into Czech Piano Music

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Here’s an interesting idea – and a superb collection of music!

German music publisher Bärenreiter have had offices in Prague since 1991, and have done more than any other publisher to champion Czech music.

For their new Expedition into Czech Piano Music collection they have worked with leading Czech pianist and educator Ivo Kahánek to produce a collection of 21 solo piano pieces composed from the 18th to 20th centuries, including representative music by 15 composers.

Though rather ambitiously billed as being for “early intermediate pianists” (and such definitions are always loose), I would suggest the pieces here would suit later intermediate to advanced players, from around UK Grades 4-8, several pieces having appeared in the higher grades.

Let’s go exploring…

Continue reading An Expedition into Czech Piano Music

Donald Thomson’s Celtic Piano Music

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Since its appearance in 2015, Donald Thomson’s A Borders Suite, which comprises five intermediate pieces stunningly presented by EVC Music, has made an impressive impact.

That first book spawned three more, each adding five more pieces celebrating the beauty of Scotland, and in 2018 the series received the accolade of being a finalist in the Best Print Resource category of the Music Education Awards.

Now EVC Music has released the ultimate collection of Thomson’s music. Bringing together all 20 pieces from those four collections and adding one more for good measure, Celtic Piano Music is a publication to celebrate and treasure. Let’s take a look…

Continue reading Donald Thomson’s Celtic Piano Music

The New, Improved Microjazz

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


It has been four decades since Christopher Norton’s remarkable Microjazz series practically reinvented piano education in this country and beyond with its infectious cocktail of classical technique and popular contemporary stylings.

Microjazz quickly won recognition the world over as a landmark series, sold over a million copies, and spawned a plethora of spin offs that included More Microjazz, Microstyles, Improvise Microjazz, Microjazz Duets and collections for a wider range of instruments.

The repackaging of the piano solo materials as the Microjazz Collections in 1997 simplified the brand, and made the progression through levels more obvious. Those Collections were again rebranded in 2011, and are receiving another facelift from this year. This time, the Microjazz Collections are also joined by two wholly new, more advanced music books.

In this review I will introduce these new stars in the Microjazz galaxy, and consider the latest updates to the existing books.

But first, let’s celebrate this incredible publishing phenomenon by recapping its extraordinary history…

Continue reading The New, Improved Microjazz

Beethoven: Klavierstücke

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Beethoven’s 35 Piano Sonatas and 22 Variations sets are at the very summit not only of his own creative output for the instrument, but are a climax of the classical keyboard repertoire. They are not, however, the sum total of the great composer’s output for solo piano…

With their latest volume, Wiener Urtext Edition UT 50295 amass his other works in one essential 260-page reference compendium, including 31 pieces with opus numbers (all but one published in the composer’s lifetime) and 36 without, one of which was newly rediscovered in 2020.

All works included are edited from the sources by Jochen Reutter, whose recent edition of the complete Sonatas for Wiener Urtext I reviewed here, with fingerings and notes on interpretation by Sheila Arnold.

Wiener Urtext has further issued three shorter folio editions of individual works, and in this review I will also detail those for your interest.

Continue reading Beethoven: Klavierstücke

Josh Winiberg: Change

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


UK-based composer Josh Winiberg’s album Change was released back in 2018, delivering ten tracks of contemporary music in the vein of the hugely popular Ludovico Einaudi, who Winiberg respects and acknowledges as an important influence.

Winiberg’s ten compositions were originally recorded with piano, string quintet, guitars and electronics. It is a measure of the popularity of the recording and the quality of its music that a solo transcription for piano has now been published by Editions Musica Ferrum, the subject of this review.

Continue reading Josh Winiberg: Change

Kashperova: In the Midst of Nature

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


If you haven’t previously encountered the music of Russian composer Leokadiya Kashperova (1872-1940), be kind to yourself: until recently, her name was known only as Stravinsky’s piano teacher (whom he highly regarded), her own rich musical output entirely forgotten.

Happily the situation is changing, thanks to the work of Dr. Graham Griffiths, whose research has led to a Kashperova Edition now being published by Boosey & Hawkes. Recently added, Griffiths now brings us her delightful solo piano suite, In the Midst of Nature

Continue reading Kashperova: In the Midst of Nature

ABBA: Voyage

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


The story of Abba’s 2021 reunion album, their final studio outing but also their first for some 40 years, hardly needs further comment such has been the media interest and saturation already.

Voyage may have divided both critical and fan opinion (doesn’t everything these days?) but the arrival of the official sheet music book from Hal Leonard offers an opportunity to consider the merits of the songs in their own right, stripped of their production.

Resistance is probably futile, so we had best take a look…

Continue reading ABBA: Voyage

Elena Cobb: Recital Piano Solos

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Elena Cobb is without doubt one of the single most inspiring educators and committed visionaries that I have ever had the privilege of meeting.

A musical force of nature, she has made a global impact in music education through her Star Prize events at London’s Royal Albert Hall which attract young players from around the world, her festival and awards sponsorships, online networking (her Facebook community for Russian-speaking teachers has more than 10,000 members) and her music publishing.

Building her publishing business EVC Music from scratch, the last decade has seen Cobb supporting new music, in the process launching and expanding the careers of several excellent educational composers. It would be easy to overlook that Cobb is herself an outstanding composer.

Having recently signed to Hal Leonard as global distributors for EVC Music, her music is once again in the spotlight, and there’s never been a better time to remind readers of two excellent collections which showcase Cobb’s own, brilliant creative voice…

Continue reading Elena Cobb: Recital Piano Solos

Patrik Pietschmann’s Movie & TV at the Piano

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Describing Patrik Pietschmann as an “internet sensation” is something of an understatement. Boasting stats that comprehensively put most online pianists to shame, the German YouTuber’s epic piano arrangements of popular soundtracks have gained him 1.59 million subscribers and over 400 million video views.

Now, in something of a publishing coup, Schott Music bring us his first printed collection, delivering ten of his most globally popular arrangements. This clearly isn’t to be missed; here’s the Pianodao review…

Continue reading Patrik Pietschmann’s Movie & TV at the Piano

Egon Wellesz: Sechs Klavierstücke op.26

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Egon Wellesz is one of those great pioneers of 20th century music who perhaps hasn’t yet been given his due either by historians or audiences.

Wellesz’s Sechs Klavierstücke (Six Piano Pieces) op.26 were composed in 1919 but are only now, a century later, appearing in print as a complete work. Perhaps finally their significance within the music to have emerged from Vienna in those decisive early decades of the twentieth century will finally be recognised…

Continue reading Egon Wellesz: Sechs Klavierstücke op.26

Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solos: Christmas Classics

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Any advanced player with a penchant for jazz and looking for fresh festive fare this holiday season would do well to check out the newly published Christmas Classics, which appears as volume 61 in the Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solos series and delivers 24 selections arranged by Brent Edstrom.

Since its recent arrival I have been playing my way through these tunes, and have been equally impressed by the variety on offer and by the consistent quality of Edstrom’s arrangements. Here’s my review…

Continue reading Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solos: Christmas Classics

The Beethoven Sonatas: Where to Start?

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


In this review I will be looking at two recent volumes from publisher Henle Verlag which between them offer an excellent introduction to Beethoven’s 35 Piano Sonatas, in a superb new edition edited by Norbert Gertsch and concert pianist Murray Perahia.

The two volumes are:

  • Five Easy Piano Sonatas, Henle 1391
  • Five Famous Piano Sonatas, Henle 1392
Continue reading The Beethoven Sonatas: Where to Start?