Eric Lu: Chopin 24 Preludes

Recording of the Month

The 22-year-old Chinese-American pianist Eric Lu is one of the brightest rising stars in today’s classical music firmament, his playing revealing both an exciting engagement with the repertoire and a fresh and compelling new perspective on it.

Aged 20, Lu was unanimously voted winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition 2018, an achievement which propelled him firmly into the limelight and rewarded him with a management deal, major label recording deal with Warner Classics, and a concert commitment which might overwhelm the less assured player.

For his part, Lu would seem to have taken all this in his stride, the embodiment of a dream he has nurtured from a young age growing up in a house where classical music was cherished.

I briefly met Lu and heard him perform Mozart’s 23rd concerto at the Chetham’s Summer School last year (shortly before he made his BBC Proms debut with the same work), and was struck then by his poise onstage and off, his quiet confidence and calm energy.

But listening to his Warner Classics studio debut, a disc which includes Chopin’s 24 Preludes Op.28 as well as short works by Brahms and Schumann, it is the emotional range he brings to his playing which most immediately strikes me…

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Breitkopf’s Brahms and Busch

Sheet Music Review

Celebrating their 300th Anniversary in 2019, august publishing house Breitkopf & Härtel reissued several heritage editions alongside their typically exciting new publications.

I have recently reviewed their edition of Joachim Raff’s Piano Sonatas and reissue of Clara Schumann’s celebrated edition of her late husband Robert Schumann’s complete piano works, with fingering by Wilhelm Kempff.

Now I’m looking at their reissued Complete Piano Works of Johannes Brahms, drawn from the Urtext of the Brahms Complete Edition issued by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreund, Vienna: this is the famous edition prepared by Brahms’ close personal friend Eusebius Mandyczewski (1857-1929).

And, breaking newer ground, I’ll also discuss Jakob Fichert’s new urtext edition of Adolf Busch’s (1891-1952) Piano Sonata in C minor Op.25.

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The Classical Piano Sonata

Building a Library

“Since my youth I have been fascinated by sonata form and, over a period of some forty years, all the programmes I have performed have been centred on works in that form. Therefore this book is a labour of love as much as, hopefully, a useful guide to some of the most marvellous music ever conceived.”

So writes Michael Davidson of his superb book The Classical Piano Sonata, which has since its publication in 2004 become something of a classic itself, and an indispensable guide for every serious pianist and music-lover.

Let’s take a closer look at the book, and evaluate what it is which makes it such an essential addition to the pianist’s library…

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Brahms: Two Rhapsodies

Sheet Music Review

Brahms’ vivacious Two Rhapsodies Op.79 of 1879 are among his most frequently performed and popular concert works.

The Rhapsody in G minor Op.79 No.2 is also a mainstay of the ABRSM piano diploma syllabus, where its gorgeous sweeping melody line makes it a popular choice with players.

Inevitably there are several printed scores on the market; ABRSM naturally promote their own, while many performers have tended to opt for the Henle Urtext edition.

Now Brahms expert Christian Köhn is presenting these popular pieces in an up-to-date new edition that remains faithful to the sources and reflects scholars’ latest findings. And according to publishers Bärenreiter,

“In addition to the informative Preface the edition offers enlightening details regarding performance practice of Brahms’ day. With a reader-friendly engraving, comfortable page turns including a fold-out page and fingering where required, the edition meets all the needs of today’s performers.”

Let’s take a quick look…

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Wiener Urtext: ‘Primo’ Series

Sheet Music Review

“Easy” collections of the core classical piano repertoire abound, but few bring to the table the depth of scholarship, reliable editing, fingering and expert advice found in the recent (and ongoing) “Urtext Primo” series.

As the latest collection in the series – featuring the music of Clementi, Czerny and Cramer – hits the shelves of music stores worldwide, let’s take a look …

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New Editions from G. Henle Verlag

Sheet Music Review

Here’s a quick roundup of the latest benchmark urtext editions from revered published Henle Verlag…


Brahms: Piano Sonata in F minor, Op.5

Brahms’ mammoth F minor Sonata, composed when he was just 20, is symphonic in scope.

This new edition by Katrin Eich, and with ingenious fingerings supplied by Andreas Boyde, comes from the New Brahms Complete Edition of 2014, and will be welcomed by all who wish to tackle this masterpiece!

publisher’s website

Brahms: Waltz in A flat, Op.39 No.15

How wonderful to see this stand-alone edition of Brahms’ well-loved classic, offering both the original and the slightly simplified version in A major, side-by-side!

Whether you are a teacher or player working on this piece, an academic or composition student, it’s fascinating to compare the two!

publisher’s website

Schumann • Liszt: Liebeslied (Widmung)

Liszt’s stunning virtuoso transcription of Schumann’s gorgeous love son “Dedication” from Myrthen, Op.25, has returned as a popular show-stopper in recent years, with recordings by Evgeny Kissin, Daniil Trifonov, Lang Lang, Yundi Li, and others giving the piece a wide audience.

Annette Oppermann’s new edition is a most welcome addition to the Henle catalogue.

publisher’s website

Dvorák: Humoresques Op.101

There’s no better place to begin an exploration of Dvorak’s solo piano music than these eight highly attractive pieces, and hopefully this brilliant new edition from Henle will help to bring these lovely works into wider circulation.

publisher’s website

Grieg: Norwegian Dances Op.35 for piano, four-hands

Grieg’s Norwegian Dances Op.35 for piano duet will be known to many from the popular orchestral version.

The original piano duet version is a brilliant concert work for advanced performers, and Ernst-Günter Heinemann’s new edition for Henle – co-edited and with fingering by the great Grieg performer Einar Steen-Nøkleberg – combines scholarship, clarity of presentation and helpfully organised page turns.

publisher’s website

Bartók: Suite Op.14

László Somfai’s authoritative new edition of the Suite Op.14, one of Bartók’s most important solo piano concert works, now supersedes the older Universal Edition version in several regards.

Of particular interest, it includes as an appendix the Andante movement that formed part of the original five-movement design of Bartók in 1916, but which was removed by the composer shortly before the work’s publication in 1918.

publisher’s website

Bartók: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs

Also edited by László Somfai and excerpted from the new Bartók Complete Edition, published by Henle in collaboration with Editio Musica Budapest, this is a welcome performing version of a rather neglected work.

In his fascinating Preface, Somfai explores the work’s complex background. The music itself is nicely organised on the page, and although the early pieces seem to me just a little more cramped than the old UE edition, the later movements (and particularly the dense Finale) are certainly more spacious, and overall this new version is without doubt the one to go for!

publisher’s website

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Your Story: Sarah Buckley

Your Stories

I’m Sarah Buckley. I’m from Toronto, Canada. I teach piano and I mentor musician entrepreneurs in personal and professional development. Here’s my story…

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