The Piano Playlist

Sheet Music Review

The Piano Playlist is an anthology of 50 popular classics in easy solo piano arrangements by Barrie Carson Turner, published by Schott Music. According to the publishers,

“Taking the concept of the ‘playlist’ from the world of digital streaming, the book presents a carefully chosen selection of the world’s favourite classical pieces for today’s student and amateur musicians.
Including works from the symphonic, operatic and solo repertoire, this collection will provide hours of enjoyable music making. From the relaxing to the dramatic and the uplifting to the melancholic, there’s music for every mood and occasion.”

I included a short review of this when it first appeared, but having now used it successfully with adult students I am pleased to offer a more detailed look and recommendation …

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Easy Piano Series: “Film” and “Shows”

Sheet Music Review

There is always room on the music shelf for easy piano arrangements of well-known and popular songs – players of all ages naturally find it encouraging and enjoyable to tackle tunes that are familiar to them, their family and friends.

It is no doubt with this in mind that Faber Music have just released two collections in The Easy Piano Series, one covering famous show tunes, the other film themes, all aimed at players who are at around Grades 1 to 2 level.

Let’s take a quick look …

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Which Mikrokosmos?

Sheet Music Review

Bartók’s monumental cycle of 153 educational piano pieces and 33 exercises, published in six volumes as the Mikrokosmos in 1940, is rightly regarded as a  seminal work within the pedagogic literature. But it often strikes me that it is more important than it is popular.

Even in my own studio (and I am a self-confessed Bartók fanatic!) it emerges from the music cupboard far less frequently than the more obviously popular For Children, First Term at the Piano, Rumanian Folk Dances and Ten Easy Pieces.

For those wanting to explore this musical smorgasbord there has never been more opportunity to do so, however, with three excellent editions to choose from. Which, though, is the best?

In this review I will be looking at classic New Definitive Version from Boosey & Hawkes, and comparing the more recent Urtext editions from Henle Verlag and Wiener Urtext Edition. I should note in passing that there is also a budget all-in-one-volume edition from Chester Music, not submitted for review or included in this survey.

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Sound Sketches

Sheet Music Review

Graham Lynch is a composer whose works have been performed by (among others) the BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Hilliard Ensemble, and in venues as diverse and prestigious as London’s South Bank and the Wigmore Hall, the Paris Conservatoire and the Merkin Hall New York.

One of Graham’s more recent projects was his series of progressive piano repertoire books called Sound Sketches.

When he self-published them back in 2011-12, Graham explained to me:

“Sound Sketches is an exciting and innovative series of graded piano pieces that will appeal to pianists of all ages and abilities. These pieces are varied in character, and each one opens up an imaginative world of colours and textures for players to explore. These ‘sound images’ are evoked through strong melodic ideas which hide their technical challenges within a sense of the delight that can be had from conjuring music from the keyboard.”

Obtaining a set I quickly found students – both teenagers and adults – who were enchanted by the pieces.

I was therefore delighted to hear that the books are now being published and freshly promoted by Elena Cobb via her EVC Music website. It must be hoped this will lead to these brilliant books receiving the attention they deserve!

Let me tell you why I think that these books merit a place on the already crowded shelves of piano teachers, students and players…

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Mike Springer: Lyrical Landscapes

Sheet Music Review

Mike Springer will be known to many readers (especially in the US) as a prolific educational composer, with many publications in print with Alfred Music (UK readers can explore his extensive catalogue here).

Lyrical Landscapes is his latest series, appearing as three collections of solo piano music composed for intermediate players.

Written in a variety of styles ranging from Romantic to contemporary, covering a variety of moods, these pieces are evocative and engaging to play, and would especially suit older and adult players at this level.

According to the composer:

Lyrical Landscapes is a collection of expressive pieces … written to provide opportunities for late elementary to late intermediate students to develop skills in projecting lyrical, melodic lines…

“From slow ballads to upbeat tempos, these pieces allow pianists the opportunity to develop a deeper musical awareness through the use of technical control, rubato, and subtle tempo changes. These pieces were composed so students not only enjoy performing the music, but grow musically along the way.”

Let’s take a closer look…

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