The Rusty Pianist

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • Written by ANDREW EALES
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Pam Wedgwood has an uncanny knack for spotting a niche; time and again, with publications such as the best-selling Jazzin’ About, After Hours, It’s Never Too Late and Up-Grade series, Wedgwood has delivered neatly-positioned and engagingly crafted material that has exactly met the need of the hour.

And with The Rusty Pianist she’s undoubtedly done it again.

Appearing after a year in which many former players who previously gave up playing have returned to their hobby with renewed enthusiasm, this handsomely presented 40-page book offers an opportunity for them to, as the publishers put it,

“Rediscover the piano with this exciting collection of easy-to-learn piano solos.”

So let’s investigate further …

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People Get Ready!

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • Written by ANDREW EALES
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People Get Ready is a new collection of 13 solo piano arrangements of popular songs by Black musicians, suitable for late intermediate to early advanced players.

Brought to us by Faber Music, the publication presents itself as a “celebration of black songwriters”, offering a selection of iconic works that certainly fulfil that aim, while also tapping into the zeitgeist of the present moment.

People Get Ready is in my view an important and excellent publication, so in this review I will consider each of the 13 songs, include YouTube clips of the originals, as well as adding insights about these new piano arrangements, which have been produced by Faber regular Oliver Weeks.

Continue reading People Get Ready!

Nikki Iles and Friends

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • Written by ANDREW EALES
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Nikki Iles will be known to many readers for her Jazz on a Winter’s Night book and subsequent series for OUP, and her recent Tales for Alice and Tales for Peter Pan collections for EVC Music, all of which I have been hugely impressed by.

Over the years, Iles has also contributed to the ABRSM Jazz Piano Syllabus and composed several memorable pieces for the board’s standard piano grades, which are always popular choices. And now she’s back with two new books of jazz pieces for ABRSM, between them bringing 29 new piano solos to the intermediate and advanced repertoire, composed and arranged by Iles and a stellar array of luminaries of the contemporary jazz world.

With the drawing power of Iles and friends, and the marketing clout of ABRSM, these two books are sure to fly off the shelves, so let’s take a closer look while we can!

Continue reading Nikki Iles and Friends

The Faber Music Contemporary Piano Anthology

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • Written by ANDREW EALES
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Faber Music’s growing series of Piano Anthology books are a continuing source of joy, and have been enthusiastically received by several of my regular adult students.

I have reviewed the previous collections here:

Spoilers: in all cases I have been impressed both with the intelligence and value of the music selections and the quality of the publications themselves.

So it great to be welcoming a new addition to the family with the delivery of The Faber Music Contemporary Piano Anthology, which offers 52 “beautiful neoclassical pieces for solo piano”.

Let’s find out whether it lives up to the high standards set by the series…

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Martin Doepke: Piano Tales

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • Written by ANDREW EALES
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Born in Cologne in 1957, Martin Doepke has made a big name for himself in Germany as a collaborative keyboard player, recording musician and, since the late 1980’s, composing for theatre and TV productions. He has also taught popular music at the Rheinische Musikschule in Cologne since 1990.

Piano Tales is Doepke’s first published collection of solo piano music from Universal Edition. The book includes three pieces adapted from his hit German musical version of Beauty and the Beast (not to be confused with the Disney one!) as well as ten other original pieces about which the composer writes,

“The pieces in the present volume were written at different times over the years and in various places. They reflect my love of classical music and my passion for film music and musicals. Apart from the three taken from my musical Beauty and the Beast the pieces are not connected.
Each tells a short story. Some are playfully romantic, others are rather mystically melancholic or have a pulsing rhythm. Their styles span today’s music genres and call for a love of musical variety and diversity.”

This is certainly a good summary, but let’s take a closer look and listen…

Continue reading Martin Doepke: Piano Tales

Eusebius Mandyczewski: Little Cadences, Canons and Preludes

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • Written by ANDREW EALES
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The name Eusebius Mandyczewski may be new to you, so let me start this review by telling you a little bit about him…

Mandyczewski (1857-1929) was a Romanian musicologist, composer and conductor. From 1887 to 1929, he was the archivist and librarian of Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. He concurrently taught music history and counterpoint at the Conservatory of the Musikfreunde, where his students included Hans Gál, Gerge Szell and Karl Böhm.

As a composer, Mandyczewski fell into oblivion, having never quite achieved a decisive breakthrough despite writing several choral works, as well as two sets of piano variations, several song cycles and other vocal works published in his lifetime.

As a music editor he achieved enduring longevity however, producing a complete Schubert Edition and (with Gál) a complete edition of the works of Brahms, with whom he had enjoyed a close friendship over many years.

I have previously reviewed Mandyczewski’s benchmark edition of Brahms Complete Piano Works, and the same publisher now brings us the First Edition of his newly resurrected Little Cadences, Canons and Preludes for Pianoforte, dating from 1916, and first performed in public on September 2nd, 2018.

It’s an intriguing collection…

Continue reading Eusebius Mandyczewski: Little Cadences, Canons and Preludes

Patrick Hamilton: Journey to the Unknown

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • Written by ANDREW EALES
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According to Decca Publishing,

“Patrick Hamilton is a flag bearer for the next generation of producer, composer and arranger. A leading figure in classical crossover music, his ambitions include the verticals of artist production alongside film and TV score composition, which together bring his unique skill set to the adult contemporary classical space.”

Judging from Journey to the Unknown, Hamilton’s first solo piano CD, what this lofty statement actually means is that he is the latest to join the ever-growing pantheon of composers creating gentle, soothing piano music in the style popularised by Ludovico Einaudi.

Journey to the Unknown is also now available as a sheet music publication from Hal Leonard. I really like it, so let’s find out what makes it special…

Continue reading Patrick Hamilton: Journey to the Unknown

Last Post “…from Chopin’s Land”

MUSIC FROM CHOPIN’S LAND
In 2020 I was commissioned to record five short films showcasing piano music from PWM Edition. Captivated by the music, I asked to see a wider selection. This series was written independently to introduce this wonderful Polish repertoire to a wider audience…


At the start of this series I gave an account of my surprise 2020 visit to Poland, and in subsequent articles I have discussed some of the best piano music I discovered on my trip, together with the tutorial films that I and a team of international colleagues created to showcase this music to the piano teaching community worldwide.

As the series draws to a close, I would like to share a couple more books that were featured in the PWM promotion, as well as a series of three special collections which actually bear the project name, Music from Chopin’s Land.

And then the punchline! I will end this final post in the series with a short reflection on the lasting lessons I have learnt about piano pedagogy following on from my visit to Chopin’s land…

So, firstly, a few extra reviews and videos for your interest and enjoyment…

Continue reading Last Post “…from Chopin’s Land”

Zbigniew Bargielski: A Flea Market

MUSIC FROM CHOPIN’S LAND
In 2020 I was commissioned to record five short films showcasing piano music from PWM Edition. Captivated by the music, I asked to see a wider selection. This series was written independently to introduce this wonderful Polish repertoire to a wider audience…


Polish composer Zbigniew Bargielski was born in 1937 in Łomża and initially trained in law, until switching his focus to more serious music studies in his twenties. After his years at the State Higher School of Music in Warsaw and then Katowice, he took composition classes with the great Nadia Boulanger in Paris and then at the Hochschule für Musik in Graz.

Bargielski has enjoyed a long and successful career as a composer, with a prolific body of chamber and solo works to his name. He has also distinguished himself as a teacher (lecturing in composition at the Academies of Music in Kraków and Bydgoszcz) and music journalist.

PWM have collected a range of his quirky and highly varied piano pieces in three volumes called A Flea Market, and in this review I will be particularly looking at the first of these, which brings together a range of works suitable for late intermediate to early advanced students.

Featured in the Music from Chopin’s Land international promotional project, this article will include tutorials from French pianist Ernestine Bluteau and recordings of some of the highlights from this unique and rather wonderful collection…

Continue reading Zbigniew Bargielski: A Flea Market

Exploring Janina Garścia’s Educational Music

MUSIC FROM CHOPIN’S LAND
In 2020 I was commissioned to record five short films showcasing piano music from PWM Edition. Captivated by the music, I asked to see a wider selection. This series was written independently to introduce this wonderful Polish repertoire to a wider audience…


Janina Garścia (1920-2004) was one of Poland’s great piano educators. In addition to teaching in primary schools for close to 50 years, she composed around 700 pieces for younger players, mostly for piano.

Much of her best educational piano music remains in print from PWM Edition, and in this review I will focus on three collections which were selected to feature in the recent Music from Chopin’s Land promotion, together with tutorial and demonstration videos filmed as part of that project.

The three collections I’ll look at here are:

  1. Musical Pictures for the Youngest
  2. Teasers for piano
  3. Little Sonatinas for piano
Continue reading Exploring Janina Garścia’s Educational Music