Edition Peters’ Grade 8 Anthology

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written 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

The Pianist’s Behaviour

PATHWAYS FOR LIVING • by ANDREW EALES
setting our piano journey in its living context.


With the majority of our interactions and interpersonal relationships evolving exclusively online over the last year or so, it’s no surprise that some are now expressing some anxiety about resuming our lives in the “real world” again.

I’m surely not the only one who has watched with a mixture of bemusement, concern, and at times mounting horror as friends, colleagues and forum folk have, over the lockdown months, become increasingly cranky.

Won’t it be a bit awkward bumping into that piano teacher who has spent the last year pedalling bizarre conspiracy theories?

How about those friends and colleagues who have been so rude to, or about each other, seemingly oblivious that their acquaintances were collectively grabbing the popcorn and reading along in stunned disbelief?

Whether we’ve been drawn into the fray, stood back in judgment, or remained completely aloof, none of us can honestly claim to have been entirely blameless through this period of adaptation. Sometimes, this pandemic has brought out the best in us. Sometimes not.

It is time for us all to take stock. When it comes to behaviour and relationships, there may be situations where we need to hit the “reset” button.

Each tentative step towards the “new normal” brings growing recognition that both in-person and online engagement are very much here to stay, and will contribute to a more complex reality in which the quality of our personal and relational behaviour will be as crucial, and more visible than ever.

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Age

During my recent readings of the Daoist Classics, this passage from Laozi’s Daojeding leapt from the pages, and is I believe pertinent to this time:

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying too.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Dao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
Everybody will respect you.

Daodejing, chapter 8, Laozi.
translated by Stephen Mitchell.
“Tao Te Ching, An Illustrated Journey”.

It is hardly for me to instruct others in how to behave. Nevertheless, I believe that Laozi’s words present a fairly comprehensive and beautifully succinct manual covering the most important bits.

The sage’s insights on cultivating healthy priorities, resolving conflict, avoiding comparisons and turning away from competition speak incisively, and are as relevant and powerful today as they were two and a half millennia ago.

And perhaps it really is this simple, if only we take time to reflect upon and apply these teachings.

To save you scrolling back, here are Laozi’s words again, together with the suggestion that we all take time to read them slowly:

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying too.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Dao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
Everybody will respect you.


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Anna Robinson: Notes on a Neighbourhood

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Back in January of this year I received, out of the blue, a music book produced by Melbourne, Australia-based composer and teacher Anna Robinson, together with a charming letter of introduction. Notes on a Neighbourhood features seven late-intermediate character pieces.

It isn’t unusual for me to receive unexpected material from those who have enjoyed reading my reviews here and are naturally keen to see their work featured, but to be honest I often find that self-published music falls short of making a significant impression on me. As a published composer myself, I have learnt the value that a good editor can bring into the equation, and it is usually obvious when that added-value is missing.

Not so in the case of Notes on a Neighbourhood, which has been burning a hole on my music stand ever since it arrived, the pieces within continuing to impress with their musical and pedagogic content.


With a little encouragement from me, and a lot of work from Anna, Robinson’s book is now available as a physical publication here in the UK, printed by Halstan, and stocked for mail order purchase by Forsyth’s in Manchester here.

So what’s the story?

Continue reading Anna Robinson: Notes on a Neighbourhood

Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne: French Duets

RECORDING OF THE MONTH • review by ANDREW EALES
showcasing an inspirational recent piano recording.


When global concert and recording artists Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne teamed up a couple of years ago to record an album of piano duo music by Schubert, it seemed they might become the new dream team in this repertoire. Now they are back with a second helping.

French Duets delivers exactly what it says on the tin, with music by Fauré, Poulenc, Debussy, Stravinsky and Ravel: some of the brightest gems in the piano duo treasury. And to my taste at least, this recording surpasses the last, becoming an immediate favourite.

No surprise, then, that French Duets is my May 2021 Recording of the Month

Continue reading Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne: French Duets

Janina Garścia: Ikebana

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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In my 2020 series Music from Chopin’s Land I highlighted several publications by leading 20th century music educator and composer Janina Garścia. You can read my review here and watch PWM’s educational videos, filmed to support piano teachers as part of a project in which I was myself also a presenter.

I’m happy to let you know that PWM Edition have more recently reissued another Garścia classic. Ikebana Op.70 is a series of eleven intermediate piano solos which the composer dedicated ‘to the children and youngsters of the distant land of Japan’, the music itself inspired by Japanese culture.

Let’s go exploring…

Continue reading Janina Garścia: Ikebana

Markus Schimpp: Yearning for Silence

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Markus Schimpp’s recording Yearning for Silence, which was released on the NEOS Music label in 2019, is one of the more interesting albums of original piano music from recent years, melding the post-minimal simplicity of Einaudi with the more advanced (and at times dissonant) harmonic language of the 20th century’s modernist classical composers.

Happily, his full transcriptions of these “33 Approximations of Silence” have recently also been published by the ever-wonderful Editions Musica Ferrum, their sheet music book the subject of this review.

Suitable for early advanced players (the easiest pieces here are around UK Grade 3, but most are closer to Grade 6), I believe this collection will be a superb discovery for many readers, and is certainly my pick of the recent bunch of inventive and evocative miniatures for players at this level.

Let’s take a look, and a listen…

Continue reading Markus Schimpp: Yearning for Silence

Disney Goes Classical

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Disney Goes Classical is the latest hit album from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, comprising 15 favourite songs from Disney movies. You can stream it on all the usual platforms, and now you can also play the arrangements from the recently published 72-page accompanying music book…

The “Classical” of the title presumably refers to the fact that the album was recorded by seasoned classical artists (including cameo appearances from guitarist Kaori Muraji and singers Renée Fleming and Matteo Bocelli) rather than a studio orchestra; most of the songs seem to me little changed from the originals.

As such the new music book serves not only as a companion to the RPO recording but as a potentially useful and inspiring collection of some of the most iconic Disney songs.

There’s no shortage of Disney songbooks on the market of course, but this one has special appeal, so let me sprinkle you with fairy dust and we’ll take a tour of this magical publication….

Continue reading Disney Goes Classical

Variations on a Waltz: The Diabelli Project

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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In early 1819, the well-known composer and music publisher Anton Diabelli (1781-1858), sent a 32-bar waltz to the most reputable composers of the Austrian Empire, together with an invitation to submit their variations for publication as a collaborative collection.

Among those who responded to the call were Czerny, Hummel, Moscheles, Schubert, and the eleven-year-old Franz Liszt, and from their contributions Diabelli was able to assemble a set of 50 Variations on his theme.

We only know for sure of one composer who explicitly declined Diabelli’s invitation to collaborate: Beethoven. It remains unclear why he did not want to participate directly, but he nevertheless composed his own monumental set of 33 Variations, not directly for Diabelli but exploring alternative avenues of publication.

Beethoven’s 33 Variations on a Waltz Op.120 quickly established itself not only as one of his most important keyboard works, but one of the pinnacle summits of the entire classical piano repertoire, entirely overshadowing the rest of the project.

Delivered for the recent Beethoven 250 anniversary year, Mario Aschauer’s landmark new scholarly performing edition of the Beethoven Diabelli Variations is an essential score for serious students of the work, published by Bärenreiter, BA 9657.

Perhaps even more interestingly however, Bärenreiter have also brought us their edition BA 9656, which includes Beethoven’s masterpiece together with Aschauer’s new edition of the 50 Variations on a Waltz composed by his contemporaries in response to Diabelli’s call.

Let’s take a closer look at this ambitious and exciting publication…

Continue reading Variations on a Waltz: The Diabelli Project

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 …

Continue reading The Rusty Pianist

J.S. Bach: The Six Partitas

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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The Six Partitas BWV 825-30 of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) have long been regarded as one of the most important milestones of the Baroque keyboard repertoire, and exist in many editions.

The latest, edited by Ullrich Scheideler, with fingering added by concert pianist William Youn, and published by Henle (HN 518), replaces the same publisher’s 1979 Rudolf Steglich/Hans-Martin Theopold edition (HN 28), and aims to deliver the latest scholarship in a practical performing edition…

Continue reading J.S. Bach: The Six Partitas