Chart Hits of 2020-2021

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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Having recently reviewed Hal Leonard’s Really Easy Beatles Collection, let’s bring things bang up to date with a look at their recent Chart Hits of 2020-2021.

The series of bumper songbooks, offering transcriptions of “20 Massive Singles”, comes in four flavours:

  • Solo Guitar
  • Ukulele
  • Easy Piano
  • PVG (Piano, Vocal, Guitar)

In this short review I will look at the latter two of these…

Continue reading Chart Hits of 2020-2021

The “Really Easy Piano” Beatles Collection

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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Keen to learn your favourite Beatles song on the piano, but sensing that it’s going to be a long and winding road?

Well, after a hard day’s night, the paperback writers from Hal Leonard have dropped the latest addition to their “Really Easy Piano” library, and it’s only The Beatles Collection

Continue reading The “Really Easy Piano” Beatles Collection

Rediscovering Anna Magdalena Bach’s Notebooks

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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It is more than 60 years since the last complete critical edition was produced of the famous music notebooks that J.S.Bach compiled for his second wife, Anna Magdalena.

Keenly aware of the need to revisit both collections of 1722 and 1725, and in mind of the tremendous leaps made in Bach scholarship in recent years, leading expert Christoph Wolff’s new critical urtext has recently been published by Edition Peters.

This landmark treasure appears in two separate forms: the Premium Scholarly Edition is a hardback clothbound complete version, while the less expensive Practical Student Edition delivers the shorter pieces from the collections as a more conventional score suitable for learners.

For more information, read on for my full review of both versions…

Continue reading Rediscovering Anna Magdalena Bach’s Notebooks

Beethoven’s Revised Für Elise

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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“It’s Für Elise, Jim, but not as we know it!”

Bärenreiter’s new urtext edition of Beethoven’s beloved Bagatelle is one of the most unexpectedly fascinating publications to arrive in a while, offering as it does a radically different version of the piece alongside the one we know so well.

Believed to have been composed between 1808-10, the autograph manuscript of Für Elise remained in private hands until 1865, at which point one Ludwig Nohl discovered it in the possession of a local piano teacher in Munich. Nohl published this version (we’ll call it “Version 1”) in 1867, and it’s the one we all play to this day. It’s really not bad.

How surprising to learn, then, that in 1822/3 Beethoven went back and revisited his earlier sketch, substantially revising it for publication within a planned (but unrealised) collection of 12 Bagatelles. Version 2.0.

Those sketches survive, and for Bärenreiter’s new edition Mario Aschauer presents not only the most authoritative text of Version 1, but also includes his fully performable completion of Version 2.

The review below includes Aschauer’s own recording of Version 2, so you can hear it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Be prepared for a bit of a shock, though; right from the start, Beethoven’s revised version is very different to that which we know…

Continue reading Beethoven’s Revised Für Elise

Musicians Who Teach

THE PIANODAO BOOKSHELF
books for piano players, teachers, students and music enthusiasts


Faber Music’s latest publication is a slim book called The Essential Handbook for Musicians Who Teach.

Written by singing teacher, researcher and lecturer Dr. Kerry Boyle and Diane Widdison, formerly National Organiser for Education and Training at the MU, the book is aimed at any musician teaching in the UK, whatever the context, and offers a wealth of generic advice covering the many practical aspects of earning money from instrumental/singing teaching.

I’ll look at the content in detail, and let’s find out whether this new handbook is indeed “essential”….

Continue reading Musicians Who Teach

The Impeccable Piano Music of Francesco Cilea

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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The impeccable piano music of Italian composer Francesco Cilea (1866-1950), though little-known, surely represents one of the unsullied treasures of the “salon music” repertoire.

Happily, this music of supreme taste and charm has been given a fresh opportunity to shine, Cilea’s complete piano oeuvre newly edited by Giuseppe Filianoti and published in a single-volume edition by Ricordi.


The sumptuous 272-page volume has completely enchanted me… let’s take a look!

Continue reading The Impeccable Piano Music of Francesco Cilea

Peaceful Piano Solos: The Series

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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Hal Leonard’s Peaceful Piano Solos series began life in 2018 with an initial title and matching easy piano version, offering the same 30 popular relaxing piano solos.

Peaceful Christmas Piano Solos (which I have already reviewed here) and Peaceful Piano Solos Soundtracks followed the next year.

With the recent release of Peaceful Classical Piano Solos, this seems like a good moment to catch up with the series as a whole.

First, I will introduce each of the books in turn, including their track lists and particular points to note. For information about the Christmas edition, please refer back to my previous review.

Later in the review, I will then offer some generic observations about the publications and series as a whole…

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Simon Hester: Scenes from the Movies

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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When I reviewed Simon Hesters Megabytes from Editions Musica Ferrum a couple of years back, I was immensely impressed with his music, concluding that it was,

“…an absolutely brilliant and hugely creative collection: strongly recommended!”

Hester has a new collection available, again published by Musica Ferrum.

Scenes from the Movies delivers 8 new pieces suitable for advanced players (UK Grades 6-8), inspired by classic cinema.


Let’s find out whether it has “box office hit” written all over it…

Continue reading Simon Hester: Scenes from the Movies

Rybicki: Young Modernist

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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Introducing Polish composer Feliks Rybicki’s educational piano books as part of my Music from Chopin’s Land series, I noted:

“The piano educational music of Feliks Rybicki is one of the great treasures of the pedagogic repertoire, and deserves to be known by teachers and students everywhere…”

In that review I considered his trilogy I Begin to Play, I Am Already Playing and I Can Play Everything for piano, published worldwide by PWM Edition, who have now reissued another of Rybicki’s early intermediate collections, Young Modernist.

This edition once again appears in the “CAT” series aimed at children, in landscape format, and with superb colour illustrations within…

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Edition Peters’ Grade 8 Anthology

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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The recently published Grade 8 Piano Anthology from Edition Peters is a stroke of publishing genius, predicated on the following ABRSM Syllabus statement:

“Candidates may use any edition of the music, except where a particular arrangement or transcription is specified. Editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and are not obligatory”.

With one of the most extensive back-catalogues, Edition Peters is brilliantly placed to jump in with a varied anthology of 24 of the best pieces from ABRSM’s 2021-2 syllabus, offering a clear improvement over the selection of just 9 in the board’s own Grade 8 Pieces book (reduced from the more generous 12 of previous years).

Not only does this anthology have the potential to be more musically nutritious and better value than ABRSM’s own, but it also offers a couple of other useful bonuses which I will be looking at later in this review.

This is undeniably a publication which overtly invites comparison with the official ABRSM alternative. So let’s see how they measure up…

Continue reading Edition Peters’ Grade 8 Anthology