Alan Bullard will be known to many readers for his many contributions to popular educational series and in particular the excellent adult piano method series Pianoworks, co-written with his wife Janet, and recently reviewed here.
In addition to his educational publications, Bullard is a busy and accomplished composer of concert works, including the recently published Twelve or Thirteen Preludes for Piano Solo: Set Two (Minor Keys), a collection that follows on from the first Set (written in each major key), which was published back in early 2017 by Colne Edition, and distributed by Spartan Press.
With this new publication, Bullard joins the ranks of composers (including J.S. Bach, Heller and Chopin) to have written a Prelude in each and every one of the 24 major and minor keys. And I think they make a very solid collection, one that deserves wide currency…
Once in a while, a publication arrives for review which is based on a great concept and is itself essentially a very good product, but where the mismatch between the original intention and its actual delivery is a glaring one, as though at some point in the developmental process there was a communication breakdown.
Core Classics: Essential Repertoire for Piano, a set of seven progressively “graded” solo repertoire books published worldwide today by ABRSM, is a striking example of this phenomenon.
So let’s see what went awry, and more positively, what this beautifully presented new series actually has to offer…
As publishers prepare for the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Beethoven, several have been revisiting his Piano Sonatas, a steady flow of which have been arriving for review over recent months.
First to deliver their new version of the complete cycle are Bärenreiter, whose edition of all 35 Sonatas (including the three early Sonatas WoO 47) is now complete and available in a variety of formats.
An epic achievement, this new edition has already won the hearts and minds of some of the world’s greatest Beethoven interpreters; those giving glowing endorsements include Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough, Robert Levin, Leslie Howard and Igor Levit (whose recording of the cycle I recently reviewed here).
To quote Paul Badura-Skoda:
“Jonathan Del Mar’s Beethoven edition is unparalleled in terms of its precision. What I value most about it is the use of lesser-known or previously unknown sources, the commentary, which is the most extensive to date, and the discussion of problematic sections. I wholeheartedly recommend this new edition of Beethoven piano sonatas.”
As the 250th centenary of the birth of Beethoven approaches, it’s no surprise that the major publishers are issuing new and updated editions of his major piano solo works.
The monumental cycle of 35 Sonatas (the “New Testament” of the solo piano repertoire) are inevitably a centrepiece of the release schedules of several major publishers, but Beethoven’s other piano works mustn’t be overlooked.
Happy news, then: Henle Urtext have brought out an updated edition of Beethoven’s Variations for Piano in two volumes.
The first volume [HN 1267] appeared a couple of years ago, but it’s the second [HN 1269], now available, that may prove the more irresistible.
A recent review that I read elsewhere suggested that Elena Cobb’s EVC Music has “cornered the market in pedagogical, developmental publications for piano”. While this is something of an overstatement, it is certainly great to see EVC at last receiving its due recognition for a published catalogue that has continued to go from strength to strength.
EVC Music is not just about pedagogy though; the company has been steadily bringing to market a growing and glowing range of performance works by contemporary composers, the latest of which is Art Preludes, a suite of five new pieces by British composer Graham Lynch.
Faber Music have in recent years welcomed the onset of the Christmas shopping season with the publication of lavish anthologies, making perfect gifts for the pianist in your life (or indeed for yourself!).
First (in 2016) came the Faber Music Piano Anthology, a stunning hardback collection including 76 popular intermediate and advanced classics, which I reviewed here.
In 2018 they followed this with the lush Faber Music Christmas Piano Anthology, an essential seasonal purchase which I reviewed in more detail here.
New for 2019, the Faber Music Soundtracks Piano Anthology is a collection of 58 pieces which have appeared in movies or TV shows, including popular classics alongside recent film scores.
The Christmas season is accompanied by a uniquely popular and significant body of music spanning multiple genres, and it’s no wonder that there are so many varied piano collections to choose from, whatever your level.
In this mega-review, I’ll be surveying the collections which have especially caught my eye as we enter the festive season in 2019…
Jazz music and Christmas have a beautifully nostalgic association for many, and it’s no surprise that jazz pianist Nikki Iles’ Jazz on a Winter’s Night has been such a huge success since its 2009 publication.
Jazz on a Winter’s Night proved to be a milestone publication that spawned three outstanding sequels in Jazz in Springtime, Jazz on a Summer’s Day and Jazz in Autumn, each including a selection of seasonally themed jazz standards and originals composed by Nikki herself.
I was thrilled to recently notice that Oxford University Press have now brought out a second collection of Christmas classics arranged by Nikki in a range of jazz styles that once again pay homage to legendary jazz musicians.
In this review I will recap what makes the original book such a classic must-have for every advanced pianist before taking a closer look at its excellent new sequel…
Phillip Keveren has established a formidable reputation as an outstanding arranger with his Phillip Keveren Series, numbering nearly 100 titles published worldwide by Hal Leonard.
Ranging from Gospel music, hymns and worship songs to contemporary popular artists such as Coldplay, Queen and Billy Joel, and with plenty of music from films and stage thrown in, these beautifully presented “Piano Solo” collections offer arrangements suitable for the late intermediate player, while there’s also a selection of “Easy Piano” titles aimed at elementary players.
Ut Orpheus Edizioni (distributed by Universal Edition) have recently published a new urtext edition of Dussek’s catchily-titled The Sufferings of the Queen of France (for piano of harpsichord), subtitled in the original:
“A Musical Composition, Expressing the feelings of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, During her Imprisonment, Trial, etc. The Music, adapted for the Piano-Forte or Harpsichord Composed by J.L. Dussek.”
You’ve surely spotted the rise-and-rise in popularity of so-called ‘new classical’ music, as championed by Ludovico Einaudi, Max Richter, Yiruma and others.
Their music seems to travel from TV shows to school concerts, and from adult piano clubs to the studios where those of us who teach students of all ages are routinely asked to help them learn River Flows in You, The Heart Asks Pleasure First, Nuvole Bianche and more.
And why not? These are expressive, melodic and reflective pieces that seem to have struck the perfect chord in our otherwise often turbulent times.
How happy, then, to find a single collection that includes so many of the genre’s top titles in one tastefully presented bumper compendium!
Contemporary Piano Masters may just offer a one-stop-solution to your ‘new classical’ needs, bringing together 40 pieces from 20 of “the world’s leading piano composers”.
Karen Marshall’s Piano Trainer Series for Faber Music, which includes The Foundation Pianist (with David Blackwell, reviewed here) and The Intermediate Pianist (with Heather Hammond, reviewed here), has reached its conclusion with the publication of The Advanced Pianist (Books 1 and 2, with Mark Tanner).
Taken as a whole, the complete series of seven books can be used as a core curriculum that can be interspersed with the eight grades of the UK examination boards, or used standalone by those not interested in taking exams.
In this review I will firstly take a look at The Advanced Pianist before drawing a few conclusions about the Piano Trainer series as a whole…
Philip Martin has long been well-regarded as one of our finest concert pianists, recording artists, pedagogues and composers, writing music that combines the influences of the folk music he grew up with, the British classical scene he trained in, and a longstanding passion for American classical and jazz music.
Now, in what must be regarded as a landmark publication, a retrospective collection of his more jazzy solo piano pieces have been published by Elena Cobb’s EVC Music Publications Ltd.
New York Nights offers the more advanced player a veritable “greatest hits” of Martin’s more accessible pieces, and promises to be an essential purchase.
While the best composers often write brilliant music in response to a commission or request, the creative impetus for composing will often arise from a specific moment of inspiration, musical or conceptual.
So it is with the latest scores from Nikolas Sideris, known to many not just for his own music, which includes Fairyland in Treble and Dusk of Day, Dawn of Night, but also for his Editions Musica Ferrum independent publishing house.
Due to a change in personal circumstance, Nikolas finds himself semi-moving from London to Amsterdam, and among other things this will mean that he will no longer be teaching his 18 students in one particular school. Having grown attached to them, Nikolas decided it a fitting gift to compose a piece dedicated to each of the students.
These personal gifts were no doubt enthusiastically welcomed by their dedicatees, but I think that they deserve a far wider appeal and use. Which brings us to “Personalities”, the two new solo piano collections containing these 18 pieces, now available from Musica Ferrum.
Radiohead hardly need any introduction. Since forming in 1985, they have established themselves as one of the most unique and admired bands in the world, selling more than 30 million albums and regularly topping listener and critical polls.
Australian pianist and teacher Josh Cohen will perhaps be a new name to some readers however, although he has garnered an impressive following of some 70,000+ followers on YouTube, drawn to his improvised solo piano arrangements of popular songs by Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Sigur Rós and David Bowie.
Now, thanks to Faber Music, 11 of Cohen’s arrangements are being published (with the approval of Radiohead themselves) in a beautifully presented collection.
Here’s Cohen explaining in his own words the journey that brought us this publication:
Wiener Urtext Edition have, in recent years, made a particular effort to renew their editions of Schubert’s smaller-scale piano works, the two sets of Impromptus, Op.90 and Op.142, and the Moments musicaux op.94, a new edition of which has just appeared on the market.
Is this new version the definitive edition? Let’s see…
In a grand publishing milestone, Breitkopf & Härtel have reissued in seven volumes Robert Schumann’s complete piano works in the edition prepared by his widow Clara Schumann, and later updated with additional fingerings by the legendary pianist Wilhelm Kempff…
Let’s dig straight into the fascinating history of this one ….
Faber Music’s numerous piano anthologies have established themselves not only as enticing collections of sought-after pieces, but as a barometer of trends in the piano world.
The newly issued Peaceful Piano Playlist exemplifies this perfectly, offering a selection of relaxing classics and “new classical” pieces that will no doubt have huge appeal to teenagers and adults who play for pleasure and to relax.
If the title (and image above) already appeal, there’s a good chance that you will enjoy this publication immensely. So let’s take a closer look (and listen)…
Alison Mathews is a contemporary British composer whose delightful piano music has established itself as one of the highlights within the growing Editions Musica Ferrum catalogue.
I have previously given glowing reviews to her excellent Treasure Trove (for intermediate pianists, read the review) and Doodles (for elementary players, reviewed here).
Alison’s latest collection is aimed at the early advanced player. Landscapes: Poetic Piano Solos consists of 14 original compositions that would suit players between around UK Grade 5-7 level. Let’s take a look (and a listen!) …
Henri Bertini (1798-1876) may be less well-known than his ridiculously prolific contemporary Carl Czerny (1791-1857), but his piano studies should not be overlooked, and were hugely influential in their day.
Now, thanks to Schott Music’s sumptuous Essential Exercises series, 48 Studies have been newly republished, offering the perfect opportunity to rediscover and explore this neglected composer’s marvellous work. Let’s dig in…
That’s the first word that came to me as I unpacked the advance review copy of Lang Lang’s Piano Book when it arrived back in February, and it is rightly the first word of this review.
Because Lang Lang’s Piano Book is without question one of the most lush sheet music publications I have ever seen. So, right away a huge round of applause goes to Faber Music for a job magnificently done.
But beyond the opulent presentation, what actually is Lang Lang’s Piano Book? Let’s take a look…
François Couperin ‘le grand’ (1668-1733) was undoubtedly one of the great keyboard composers. His seminal influence is not only evident in the music of later French composers from Rameau to Ravel, but as an antecedent finds echoes in Chopin’s piano miniatures and even perhaps (by way of Creole migrants) the rhythms of New Orleans Jazz.
And yet his music remains too little known, and too rarely performed.
Now we have an even better chance to explore his glorious solo keyboard output, thanks to Bärenreiter’s recent publication of a stunning new edition of the Second Livre (1717) of Couperin’s Pièces de clavecin.
Among 2018’s musical anniversaries, the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth in 1918 has offered an opportunity for musicians and music lovers to reassess his extraordinary contribution to music over the last century.
How fitting that Boosey & Hawkes music publishers in conjunction with the Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Company and Hal Leonard have celebrated with the publication of Selected Anniversaries for Piano, a superb new collection of Bernstein’s solo piano music featuring 16 pieces suitable for players of around UK Grade 5-7 level, and including excellent support material and online tuition videos, all the work of editor Michael Mizrahi.
Composer Ben Croslandwill be known to many Pianodao readers for his popular Cool Beans series of books published by Editions Musica Ferrum, the most recent and in my view best of which, Magic Beans, I reviewed here.
Ben’s latest publication from Editions Musica Ferrum is Songs from Rainbow Hill, a collection of “Lyric Pieces for Solo Piano” that ties in with his new album recording of the same name.
As such this is very different from his previous publications, taking us deeper into Ben’s own compositional world. So let’s enter …