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

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

Joachim Raff: Heralds of Spring

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Back in 2019 I published this review of Joachim Raff’s Piano Sonatas Op.14 and Op.168, newly edited by Ulrich Mahlert and published by Breitkopf & Hārtel, concluding:

“Had history told a different story, these three Sonatas could comfortably and confidently sit astride the peak of the Romantic piano repertoire; they more than deserve rediscovery, and I can recommend an exploration of these great works with genuine enthusiasm…
I hope that the publisher’s stated aims are fulfilled: that this new edition helps to overcome the cycle of ignorance of Raff’s music. Ulrich Mahlert and Edition Breitkopf are to be highly commended for so enterprising, important and rewarding a publication.”

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE

The team are now back with Mahlert’s new edition of another major find in the Raff catalogue, his Frühlingsboten (Heralds of Spring) Op.55, a cycle of 12 piano pieces which are simply brilliant, and again surely deserve a far more prominent place in the modern pianist’s repertoire…

Continue reading Joachim Raff: Heralds of Spring

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

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

Boogie Woogie Piano Solos

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Of all the jazz styles, boogie woogie surely sits at the “unabashed fun” end of the spectrum, with a musical appeal, approachable good-nature and lack of pretensions that invites classical players as well as jazz-devotees to get down and have a go.

Intermediate players who want to boogie are well catered for by the likes of William Gillock, Martha Meir and Mike Cornick, while for the advancing player Tim Richards’ Blues, Boogie & Gospel Collection (reviewed here) is a great resource.

Meanwhile, those who want to master the style at the highest level and play transcriptions of the classics will welcome the latest addition to Hal Leonard’s Jazz Piano Solos series (volume 60, and you can explore previous highlights here). Simply titled Boogie Woogie, this new collection is terrific, and more advanced players will absolutely love it.

Continue reading Boogie Woogie Piano Solos

Discovering Schönberg’s Piano Works

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Image: Portrait of Arnold Schoenberg by Richard Gerstl, c.June 1905

When music publisher Universal Edition was founded in Vienna in 1901, its goal was to provide core classical and educational works to an enthusiastic Austrian market, but the company soon became associated with some of the most radical modernist composers of the age.

Within ten years, UE had signed contracts to publish new music by Mahler, Bartók, Schönberg, Webern, Zemlinsky, and in subsequent decades the company became the publishers of Kurtág, Ligetti, Stockhausen, Berio and Boulez among many others.

Austrian copyright ownership lasts for 70 years after a composer’s death, and when Bartók’s music came out of copyright in 2015, G. Henle Verlag were quick to produce new urtext editions which significantly improved on the scores that were previously available.

Now they are repeating the trick with the key piano works of Arnold Schönberg (later Schoenberg, 1874-1951), delivering fresh urtext editions of the Drei Klaveristücke (Three Piano Pieces) Opus 11, Sechs kleine Klavierstücke (Six Little Piano Pieces) Opus 19 and Suite Opus 25…

Continue reading Discovering Schönberg’s Piano Works

Fauré: The 5 Impromptus

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Addressing the piano music of the great French master Fauré in my recent review of Louis Lortie’s superb recordings, I noted,

“Of all the truly seminal composers in the evolution of the piano repertoire, Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) remains one of the less performed, his significance little understood, his extraordinary music too easily overlooked.”

How joyous, then, to see Jean-Pierre Bartoli’s new scholarly-critical performing edition of the 5 Impromptus from leading publisher Bärenreiter, based on the musical text from the corresponding volume of their Oeuvres complètes de Gabriel Fauré of 2020.

These ravishing treasures are suitable for the advanced performer at diploma level and above (the second Impromptu, and best known of the five, is presently included on ARSM, DipABRSM, ATCL and ALCM syllabi).

Let’s take a look at this new edition…

Continue reading Fauré: The 5 Impromptus

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

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

Celebrating Saint-Saëns

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Centenary years offer an opportunity to celebrate and perhaps reevaluate the works of significant composers from earlier times, and in 2021 (to be precise, on 16th December) we mark the 100-year anniversary of the death of the great French composer Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921).

Though best known for orchestral works, including the universally-known Carnival of the Animals, the Danse macabre, the ‘Organ’ Symphony, and his concertos (including five for piano and orchestra), Saint-Saëns also composed a significant body of solo piano music which, these days, is too little played.

This is no doubt in part because his Liszt-inspired writing renders Saint-Saëns’ solo piano music inaccessible to all but the most advanced virtuosi. Pedagogy occupied little of the composer’s time: a fairly brief stint at the École de Musique Classique et Religieuse in Paris and thereafter occasional coaching (his students including Godowsky). The result: no music composed for formative educational purposes, pre-diploma.

Saint-Saëns’ legacy has suffered in other ways too, including a not entirely fair perception that his music, though sparkling, is essentially superficial. His infamous derision for younger contemporaries such as Debussy and Milhaud no-doubt further alienated him from the public of his later years.

In this revisitation and celebration of Saint-Saëns’ piano music, I will explore three publications from Éditions Durand, who are regarded as the definitive publishers of this repertoire: Œuvres pour piano books I and II, and The Best of Saint-Saëns, a collection of thirteen miscellaneous pieces.

Continue reading Celebrating Saint-Saëns

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?

Martin Stadtfeld’s Händel Variations

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


At the age of seven, Martin Stadtfeld had a clear vision of his career goal: to become a concert pianist. From his first piano lessons with Hubertus Weimar he explored counterpoint and harmony. At 14 he went on to study with Lev Natochenny in Frankfurt, and by the age of just 22 he had signed to SONY Music Germany and released his debut CD: a recording of Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations.

Fast forward a decade and a half, and with a string of successful recordings behind him (including Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Chopin), Stadtfeld turned to Handel for inspiration for his 2019 Händel Variations recording. Transcribing the great Baroque composer’s themes to produce fresh new piano showpieces, much as he had previously done for his Hommage to Bach album the previous year, Stadtfeld scored another hit.

And now, following the album’s popularity, Schott Music have delivered the official sheet music score of Stadtfeld’s “transcriptions for piano solo on themes by Georg Friedrich Händel”. Let’s have a look…

Continue reading Martin Stadtfeld’s Händel Variations

Herbert Howells: Piano Works

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Last year, pianist Matthew Schellhorn treated us to a splendid recording of the “lost” solo piano music of the celebrated twentieth century English composer Herbert Howells.

It was my Recording of the Month, and you can read my review here.

Now I am delighted to tell you about a recently released sheet music publication which includes all of these rediscovered and reissued works, together with a few other newly resurrected miniatures.

Edited by Jonathan Clinch, and brought to us by Novello Music, Herbert Howells Piano Works is an absolute treat for all lovers of this music, and a very welcome addition to the repertoire of advanced players.

Herbert Howells Piano Works Novello

Let’s take a look…

Continue reading Herbert Howells: Piano Works

Variations on a Waltz: The Diabelli Project

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


In early 1819, the well-known composer and music publisher Anton Diabelli (1781-1858), sent a 32-bar waltz to the most reputable composers of the Austrian Empire, together with an invitation to submit their variations for publication as a collaborative collection.

Among those who responded to the call were Czerny, Hummel, Moscheles, Schubert, and the eleven-year-old Franz Liszt, and from their contributions Diabelli was able to assemble a set of 50 Variations on his theme.

We only know for sure of one composer who explicitly declined Diabelli’s invitation to collaborate: Beethoven. It remains unclear why he did not want to participate directly, but he nevertheless composed his own monumental set of 33 Variations, not directly for Diabelli but exploring alternative avenues of publication.

Beethoven’s 33 Variations on a Waltz Op.120 quickly established itself not only as one of his most important keyboard works, but one of the pinnacle summits of the entire classical piano repertoire, entirely overshadowing the rest of the project.

Delivered for the recent Beethoven 250 anniversary year, Mario Aschauer’s landmark new scholarly performing edition of the Beethoven Diabelli Variations is an essential score for serious students of the work, published by Bärenreiter, BA 9657.

Perhaps even more interestingly however, Bärenreiter have also brought us their edition BA 9656, which includes Beethoven’s masterpiece together with Aschauer’s new edition of the 50 Variations on a Waltz composed by his contemporaries in response to Diabelli’s call.

Let’s take a closer look at this ambitious and exciting publication…

Continue reading Variations on a Waltz: The Diabelli Project

J.S. Bach: The Six Partitas

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


The Six Partitas BWV 825-30 of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) have long been regarded as one of the most important milestones of the Baroque keyboard repertoire, and exist in many editions.

The latest, edited by Ullrich Scheideler, with fingering added by concert pianist William Youn, and published by Henle (HN 518), replaces the same publisher’s 1979 Rudolf Steglich/Hans-Martin Theopold edition (HN 28), and aims to deliver the latest scholarship in a practical performing edition…

Continue reading J.S. Bach: The Six Partitas

Piano Music of Amy Beach

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


American composer Amy Beach’s significant contribution to the solo piano repertoire is finally beginning to receive the recognition and popularity it rightly deserves.

Beach (1867-1944) remained a hugely committed and prolific composer, even though much of her output received little attention in the first half of her career.

Her music is avowedly conservative, doing little to advance on the language of the early Romantic era composers, Schumann, Chopin and Liszt. And yet there is certainly a timelessness to its appeal that continues to speak to audiences and connect with players.

Hal Leonard’s 2013 publication Piano Music of Amy Beach offers an enticing introduction to this important composer’s work, and has recently been reprinted (in part because it is a core text for America’s National Federation of Music Clubs Junior Festivals programme for 2020-24).

The collection offers ten intermediate to advanced solo pieces selected from across Beach’s long career by Gail Smith. Let’s take a look…

Continue reading Piano Music of Amy Beach

Frédéric Chopin: Trois Nouvelles Études

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


In my recent post Discovering Chopin I included two editions of the complete works, both brought to us by PWM Edition: firstly the celebrated Paderewski Edition beloved by performers, and secondly the more recent scholarly Chopin National Edition, edited by Jan Ekier.

The latter has established itself as a benchmark urtext edition by which other versions are presently judged, although sources of Chopin’s music are so many and surprisingly varied that, often, definitive readings are elusive.

Further underlining this point, were it in any doubt, comes the Complete Chopin New Critical Edition from Edition Peters, prepared under the watchful eyes of editor-in-chief John Rink.

Joining the first six volumes in this work-in-progress series, the latest addition is the Trois Nouvelles Études of 1840, edited by Roy Howat.

I will start with a full review of this new publication, EP 73229, and then gracefully segue into a more detailed consideration of Edition Peters’ Complete Chopin New Critical Edition, and take a quick look at the solo piano issues in the series so far.

Continue reading Frédéric Chopin: Trois Nouvelles Études

Trinity College: A Recital Anthology

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Once in every while a music book arrives on my review desk which is simply too wonderful for words, and yes! this is one of those!

Surprisingly so, perhaps, given that on paper this looks like a rather plain anthology of well-worn diploma repertoire. According to the blurb,

“This unique collection contains 21 pieces from the ATCL repertoire list for Music Performance Diplomas in Piano from 2019. The most popular recital choices join lesser-known treasures, allowing performers to create diverse and compelling programmes, whether preparing for a Trinity diploma or not.”


So you’re possibly wondering what lifts it above the exam jargon and makes it truly special. Let’s find out…

Continue reading Trinity College: A Recital Anthology

Schubert: The Late Sonatas

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Back in June 2018 I reviewed Bärenreiter’s then new issue of Schubert’s G major Fantasy Sonata, concluding:

“I am grateful that this beautifully presented edition of the Fantasy Sonata has given me a fresh opportunity to explore such a magnificent work – and with this Bärenreiter edition to hand, it becomes still more enticing.
The Fantasy Sonata must surely be among Schubert’s greatest piano works, and one of the more accessible of the later Sonatas. And whether for studying or performing this masterpiece, this new edition from Bärenreiter is undoubtedly the one to own!”

Now that edition reappears as the opening work in Volume III of Bärenreiter’s complete Schubert Sonatas edition, in which is is joined by the great Sonatas in C minor, A major and B flat major, D 958, 959 and 960 respectively, surely three of the most hallowed pieces in the entire classical piano repertoire.

Read on for the Pianodao review…

Continue reading Schubert: The Late Sonatas

Kurt Schwertsik: Collected Piano Works

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


When Austrian composer Kurt Schwertsik’s Albumblätter: collected piano works landed on my desk in 2018, I was intrigued, but like too many books it ended up buried in my review backlog.

Fast forward to Summer 2020, and the newly released recording of this music by pianist Aya Klebahn caught my attention on Apple Music. Second time lucky, I was quickly hooked…

Publishers Boosey & Hawkes tell us:

“Kurt Schwertsik’s music is characterised by ever-changing moods and is idiosyncratic with a refreshing lightness of touch. Though a pupil of Stockhausen, the composer rejected serialism in favour of new forms of tonality. His search for an ‘alternative’ modern culture draws inspiration from Satie and the Dada movement.”

Intrigued? A little belatedly, here is the Pianodao review…

Continue reading Kurt Schwertsik: Collected Piano Works

Schott’s ‘Joy of Music’

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


Schott Music is one of the world’s oldest and most revered music publishers, with a back catalogue that includes first editions of some of the greatest compositions in the history of Western Music.

Founded in 1770 by Bernhard Schott in Mainz, the distinguished publishing house celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2020, and Pianodao joins the music-loving community in congratulating them on this brilliant milestone.

Schott have themselves released a few new publications in which they celebrate their heritage, two of which I am now reviewing. Carsten Gerlitz’s Happy Birthday Schott Music will be reviewed separately, and in this article I will be looking at The Joy of Music: Discoveries from the Schott Archives, a collection of virtuoso and entertaining pieces of piano music for advanced players.

As Schott explain:

“To mark this anniversary, the Schott publishing house has dug up and reedited treasures from its historical publishing archives.”

Let’s lift the lid and see what’s inside this treasure chest….

Continue reading Schott’s ‘Joy of Music’

Discovering Chopin

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES

MUSIC FROM CHOPIN’S LAND
In 2020, I was commissioned by PWM Edition to record five films showcasing Polish piano music. I was captivated by new musical discoveries, asked to see a wider selection, and have subsequently continued to independently review and introduce this repertoire to Pianodao readers…


Frederic Chopin is of course one of the most beloved of all piano composers, and many players are eager to play his music as soon as they possibly can; in the case of adult learners, often when they have only been learning for a few months.

PWM Edition offer several collections and anthologies that provide the perfect introduction to the music of Poland’s most celebrated composer, as well as two revered complete editions.

In this post I will give a quick overview of this range, together with tutorial videos from PWM’s Music from Chopin’s Land series…

Continue reading Discovering Chopin

The Most Beautiful Paderewski

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES

MUSIC FROM CHOPIN’S LAND
In 2020, I was commissioned by PWM Edition to record five films showcasing Polish piano music. I was captivated by new musical discoveries, asked to see a wider selection, and have subsequently continued to independently review and introduce this repertoire to Pianodao readers…


Most piano lovers will of course have heard of Ignacy Paderewski: a seminal figure from the “golden age” of the piano whose brilliant career as a touring virtuoso was interrupted when he became Poland’s Prime Minister from 1919-21.

Aside from the popular Minuet in G (which I will be discussing in the tutorial film below) however, his fabulous and highly accessible piano music is far too little-known…

Continue reading The Most Beautiful Paderewski

Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


One of the many positive developments within the piano teaching and performing community in 2020 has been a re-evaluation of the contribution of musicians of African descent to the repertoire.

A primary sourcebook for this music, Oxford University Press published Piano Music of Africa and the Afrian Diaspora in five volumes, compiled and edited by William H. Chapman Nyaho, between 2007-8. Between them, the books offer 60 pieces by 36 separate composers of African descent, organised by difficulty level as follows:

  1. Volume 1: Early Intermediate
  2. Volume 2: Intermediate
  3. Volume 3: Early Advanced
  4. Volume 4: Advanced
  5. Volume 5: Advanced

More than a decade has passed since the publication of these books, and it is odd that so little of this music has made its way onto concert platforms or found regular use in teaching studios, exams, and homes.

Quite why more haven’t picked up this music is a mystery, because anyone with a fair mind and musical imagination will discover as soon as they explore these OUP volumes that the music of these neglected composers is consistently superb.

So let’s explore the series…

Continue reading Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora