8 Great Duet Books 2022

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My review of 8 Great Piano Duet Books published back in 2016 has been a popular post with readers ever since, proving that there’s plenty of interest in piano duet books.

Since then I have reviewed a trickle of other duet books, but ground to a halt during the pandemic. Meanwhile, more duet books have been amassing in my review backlog, and in this new round up I’ve got my paws on another 8 Great Duet Books for 2022.

For ease, I will introduce them in approximate order of difficulty…

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ABRSM: ‘Piano Star’ Duets

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ABRSM’s popular Piano Star series, which originally aimed at bridging the gap between the pupil’s first tutor book and ABRSM Grade 1 piano, continues to grow. The seventh and latest book is Piano Star Duets, which offers 26 newly composed or arranged piano duets for ‘early beginners to Grade 2’, compiled and edited by David Blackwell and Karen Marshall.

With five of these pieces also selected as duet alternatives in the 2021-2 ABRSM Piano Syllabus, which I recently reviewed here, the book is likely to tempt teachers and students looking for a one-stop collection of duets that they can dip into over a couple of years of lessons. That the pieces have been commissioned from some of our leading pedagogic composers further adds to the attraction.

Before taking a look, full disclosure. I contributed a single piece each to four previous titles in the series. However, I receive no ongoing royalty income from those, have absolutely no vested interest in the series, and chose not to contribute to the Piano Star Duets collection. I write here with full independence.

So, with that out of the way, let’s jump in with all four feet…

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Mike Cornick’s Elgar Favourites

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In addition to Mike Cornick’s new solo piano collection Ragtime Blues and more (which I recently reviewed here), Universal Edition have just published his latest collection for one piano, four hands: Elgar Favourites arranged for Piano Duet.

Once again, it’s a collection that’s well worth a look, so let’s take one…

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Evolving Blues & Easy Pieces

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Adrian Connell is well-known and beloved as the smiling face of Universal Edition here in the UK. Over the last three decades, he has tirelessly promoted the music of other composers while quietly and steadily pursuing his own musical interests: conducting, arranging, playing bass guitar, and developing his own portfolio of compositions.

These include 6 Symphonies, 2 Concerti, numerous other orchestral works including overtures, variations and symphonic poems, works for string orchestra and for concert band, and a growing body of choral music. Most of these works were composed in response to commissions.

It’s with great pleasure that I highlight and commend three of his publications for pianists in this short review, all brought to us by German publisher Edition Dohr:

  • Evolving Blues for Piano four hands (1990)
  • Six Easy Pieces for piano solo (1990-2015)
  • Suite on a Jazz Theme for piano four hands (1989/2015)
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Dusk of Day, Dawn of Night

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Nikolas Sideris is a composer of formidable musical intelligence and imagination who is perhaps best known for his extraordinary duet collection Fairyland in Treble.

Reviewing that collection, I concluded:

“I must say that this book stands out as being VERY special indeed. It’s truly an essential purchase.”

Fans of that duet book will undoubtedly be delighted to know that its successor, The Dusk of Day, The Dawn of Night, is now available. So let’s take a look…

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Mike Cornick’s ‘Dinner for Two’

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Mike Cornick remains one of our most prolific piano composers, and one who has made a very substantial contribution to the popular piano duet literature.

His latest release, Dinner for Two, subtitled “Romantic arrangements for piano duet”, continues his best-selling “for two” series which began with 2010’s Tea for Two and has now grown to 7 titles. As ever, the book is brought to us by Universal Edition.

Let’s take a look inside…

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Mike Cornick’s Piano Duets & Ensembles

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Teachers often ask me to recommend duet and ensemble pieces suitable for older players who are at intermediate level.

One context where this has added importance is the preparation of pieces for assessment as GCSE “ensemble” performances. Here there is a particular need for music at around ABRSM Grade 3 level, with suitably easy duet part for the classroom music teacher to play at sight, or for two or more students to perform together.

But equally, for those who teach siblings or paired/group lessons, intermediate music for more than one player can be an important – indeed essential – resource.

Happily, popular educational composer Mike Cornick has been on the case, writing brilliant arrangements for various combinations of players, and publishing several collections through Universal Edition over the years.

There are two particular sets of books well worth looking at. Firstly, there are several neat duet books, and secondly – more unusually – a series of books for larger combinations sharing a single piano.

In this review I will take a look at two of Mike’s latest publications:

  • Movie Music Favourites: Eight arrangements for piano duet
  • 4 Afro-Caribbean pieces for 6 hands at 1 piano
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Piano Sketches & Duets

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With so many great new educational piano music publications on the market, it is becoming easy to miss or overlook some genuinely top-drawer material. And of the many collections to be published over the last few years, Vitalij Neugasimov’s two books of Piano Sketches are among those that you really DON’T want to miss!

Publishers Oxford University Press (OUP) have now added two new volumes of duets to the series, appropriately titled Piano Sketches Duets 1 and 2, providing the perfect opportunity to explore the whole series.

OUP do seem to have the Midas touch when it comes to selecting sure-fire winners to publish. Their many best-sellers include the Nikki Iles Jazz Series, Janet & Alan Bullard’s brilliant Pianoworks, and of course Pauline Hall’s Piano Time range of method books, which despite stiff competition remains one of the UK’s favourite piano tutor books.

So let’s see whether the Piano Sketches series compares favourably…

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8 Great Piano Duet Books

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The Piano Duet is a musical genre that I have explored too little with my students in the past, so a few years ago I decided to stock up on a few duet books.

Finding excellent material for more advanced students was easy enough, given the wonderful works for “One Piano Four Hands” by such classical greats as Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Debussy, Poulenc et al. But finding good material for beginners and intermediate players proved far more difficult.

Fast forward to 2016 and that gap in the market has been addressed by a succession of simply great publications over the last few years. Here is my selection of some of the best, which I hope you will go ahead and explore for yourselves!

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