Boosey’s Bartók Bonanza

Sheet Music Review

Along with their outstanding new version of The First Term at the Piano – which I recently reviewed here – Bossey & Hawkes (in conjunction with Hal Leonard) have just released a couple more Bartók collections: a complete edition of For Children, and the Bartók Piano Anthology.

Here’s a look at each of these additions to the Bartók catalogue…

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NEW Piano Music from Breitkopf & Hārtel

Sheet Music Review

Over recent months, esteemed and enterprising German music publishers Breitkopf & Hārtel have unleashed a succession of interesting new piano sheet music publications, and in this group review I’m going to introduce you to the whole lot:

  • Ulrich Mahlert (editor): Spielbuch für Klavier
  • Friedrich Grossnick: More Catchy Tunes
  • Luis Zett: Busy Lizzy & Lazy Daisy
  • Alexey Shor: Childhood Memories
  • Martin Reich: Primo & Secondo  (4 hands)
  • Manfred Schmitz: Jazz Parnass  (6 hands)
  • Jairo Geronymo: 4 Prima Vistas  (2 pianos, 4 hands)

Here goes…

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With Love

Sheet Music Review

An independent publication which has recently come to my attention, With Love (volume 1) is a collection of nine original solo piano pieces by Lesley Ross, a pianist, teacher and composer based in the west of Scotland.

Suitable for pianists at around Grade 3 level, I can see With Love (volume 1) being a hit with students looking for light relief between more serious repertoire, and adults who enjoy relaxing music at the piano.

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A Piece a Week: Grade 3

Sheet Music Review

Reviewing Paul Harris’s A Piece A Week grade 1 and 2 books last year, I concluded:

“While not all players will have need of these books, a great many will benefit from using them, and A Piece A Week admirably fills a gap in the market for outstanding “quick study” material.

A Piece A Week lives up to the excellent standards Paul Harris and Faber Music have previously set, and for which they are so well known. I would say that the series is a genuine “must have” for all piano teachers.”

In the months since that review, I have started to use the books with students, and can confirm from experience that they succeed in all the respects that I previously hoped and noted. The books really are very good!

Indeed, the quick study format of A Piece a Week is establishing itself as one of my preferred ways of helping students develop their reading ability, which I find nicely complements my generally holistic, multi-sensory approach.

So before reading on, it would be a good idea to recap my previous review of the first two books, which gives a better idea of what the series is all about – you can read it here.

A Special Preview

I have known for some time that a third book was in the works. So I was delighted when Paul offered, after a meal out one evening, to play through the new collection, inviting my comments. I mention this story because Paul has graciously given me a credit in the inside cover, and you may be wondering what my involvement was.

Adopting my best “piano teacher pose” next to his piano, I listened with care as the pieces unfolded, hoping to be able to offer one or two intelligent and helpful comments along the way!

Uppermost in my mind was, of course, an enthusiasm to see whether the Grade 3 book would live up to the standards of the previous two publications. But I came away wondering whether Paul had actually over-achieved…

Put simply, the quick study works that make up A Piece A Week: Grade 3 are in my opinion far more musically interesting than many of the pieces published elsewhere as standard repertoire.

This is testament to the fact that Paul not only has one of the best minds in the music teaching world, but is also a composer of music which is attractive and accessible, and not simply educational fodder.

In short, I very much doubt pupils will want to stop playing each piece after just a week – these are works that I believe many of my students will cherish as Active Repertoire, performing in concerts and to friends.

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Easy Concert Pieces

Sheet Music review

Easy Concert Pieces is a brand new series of three piano collections edited by Monika Twelsiek and Rainer Mohrs, and published worldwide by Schott Music. The first book came out last year, while Book 2 has just been published. I will look at both, and let’s see how the series is shaping up!

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“La La Land” Music Books

Sheet Music Review

Damien Chapelle’s La La Land has proved to be one of the most talked-about movies of 2017, garnering 14 Oscar nominations and picking up six, including Best Original Score by Justin Hurwitz, and Best Original Song for City of Stars, composed by Hurwitz with lyricists Benj Hasek & Justin Paul.

One talking point which will particularly interest readers of Pianodao is that lead actor Ryan Gosling learnt to play the piano music for his role (wholly by rote) in just three months before filming, performing it with no stunt double. It’s a remarkable achievement both for Gosling, and for the teacher who worked with him.

Learn more in this short radio interview from the BBC4 Today programme – it’s fascinating and thought provoking, although we must bear in mind that Gosling was working at the piano for several hours a day, with two-hour-long daily lessons five days a week.

The results are certainly inspiring – as a student of mine put it, the piano playing is one of the best parts of the film!

And now – for those who can’t copy Ryan Gosling by setting aside the time and cost of learning daily by rote – Faber Music bring us the sheet music for the film’s great songs and key moments.

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Four Musical Treasures

Sheet Music Review

Regular readers will know that I have huge admiration for the independent up-coming publisher Editions Musica Ferrum, whose publications consistently bring high-end quality and creative originality.

In recent months EMF have been adding to their range of publications suitable for intermediate, and younger players, building on the success of their best-selling Cool Beans series by Ben Crosland, and EMF founder Nikolas Sideris’s outstanding Fairyland in Treble. Among the most recent releases, I’m going to take a look at four real gems:

  • Alison Mathews:  Treasure Trove
  • Simon Hester:  Megabytes I: The Private Life of Bugs
  • Barbara Arens All Beautiful & Splendid Things
  • Bonislava Taneva:  Sound Stories

These are all available for immediate purchase worldwide, directly from the publisher’s website here.

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Ultimate Easy Piano Songlist

Sheet Music Review

Here’s a book that I suspect many will rush to buy – a bumper collection of easy piano arrangements of great popular tunes, from the contemporary to the classic.

With (according to the cover) over 90,000 units sold, the hits that make up this “Ultimate Songlist” plunder the charts across many decades, from Cilla Black to One Direction, from Nat King Cole to Elbow, and from Wham! to Radiohead. Movies are well represented too, with The Hanging Tree (from The Hunger Games series) and Let it Go! (from Frozen) standing out as welcome highlights.

In theory there should be something here for everyone, and in practice … there probably is!

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