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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Sibelius: Three Sonatinas Op.67

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Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) is best known for his seven Symphonies, ever-popular Tone Poems and brilliant Violin Concerto; many pianists are unaware that he also wrote prolifically for our instrument.

Although Finland’s greatest composer famously declared that he didn’t like the piano and only composed for the instrument to generate income, he wrote more than 150 solo works, predominantly miniatures, and in many cases works of tremendous musical value and appeal.

Among these many works, the Three Sonatinas Op.67 are later pieces which fully embody the compressed craftsmanship and musical language of the mature Sibelius.

Published by Breitkopf & Hārtel, the benchmark edition is the Complete Edition of Jean Sibelius Works, series V Works for Piano, edited by Karl Kilpeläinen and published in 2008. Happily, Breitkopf have now released the Three Sonatinas as an individual folio, the subject of this review…

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Barbara Arens: One Hand Piano

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The Pianodao Music Library includes several collections by educator and composer Barbara Arens, and regular readers will know I am a fan.

It has been a little while since she last brought us a new collection with a major publishing house, so I am delighted to be reviewing her latest from the world’s oldest music publisher Breitkopf and Hārtel, who are also the company with whom she has the longest history.

One Hand Piano 2 is the sequel to One Hand Piano, Arens’ only Breitkopf publication not previously reviewed on Pianodao, so I am going to make the most of the opportunity to review both books here. Each volume contains 40 pieces for Left or Right hand alone, and as she so often does, Arens has identified a niche and brilliantly filled it…

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Joachim Raff: Heralds of Spring

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Back in 2019 I published this review of Joachim Raff’s Piano Sonatas Op.14 and Op.168, newly edited by Ulrich Mahlert and published by Breitkopf & Hārtel, concluding:

“Had history told a different story, these three Sonatas could comfortably and confidently sit astride the peak of the Romantic piano repertoire; they more than deserve rediscovery, and I can recommend an exploration of these great works with genuine enthusiasm…
I hope that the publisher’s stated aims are fulfilled: that this new edition helps to overcome the cycle of ignorance of Raff’s music. Ulrich Mahlert and Edition Breitkopf are to be highly commended for so enterprising, important and rewarding a publication.”

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE

The team are now back with Mahlert’s new edition of another major find in the Raff catalogue, his Frühlingsboten (Heralds of Spring) Op.55, a cycle of 12 piano pieces which are simply brilliant, and again surely deserve a far more prominent place in the modern pianist’s repertoire…

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Pianodao Music Library: Top Highlights of 2021

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By my tally, I have reviewed 152 sheet music and educational publications on Pianodao in 2021, including all those appearing individually or in sets. No wonder it’s time to sort out my music cupboard again!

But which were my absolute favourites? And which will I continue using in 2022 and beyond?

Here, without further ado, are my top three choices from each category within the ever-growing Pianodao Music Library.

To read my in-depth evaluations of each publication selected, simply click on the titles to open the full reviews.

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Greater in Major, Finer in Minor

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Early in my piano teaching career I discovered The Keyboard Crocodile, a colourful publication from Breitkopf & Hārtel offering a delicious collection of 37 Easy Piano Pieces for Children.

Suitable for elementary players, The Keyboard Crocodile fast-tracks young players from around UK Prep Test to post Grade 2 seemingly in a few blinks of the eye, presenting rapidly more difficult pieces as though they are easy, and inspiring a level of practice that is uncommon at that level. It’s quite simply a classic of the pedagogy repertoire.

Over subsequent decades, Breitkopf have steadily grown their Pädagogik imprint to include a delightful range of other characters and collections, often with an emphasis on creative education. And now the editors of The Keyboard Crocodile have delved into music history’s treasure chest of piano literature and come up with 33 gems in minor keys, Toll in Moll (Finer in Minor) and another 33 in major keys, Toll in Dur (Greater in Major).

These two collections are quite simply stunning, perhaps the most superbly presented intermediate collections I have ever seen, and suitable for all ages.

They are available separately, or as the discounted pack of both together, shown above and reviewed here. The wide range of music included (all listed below) is suitable for intermediate players from around UK Grades 3-6. And there’s enough consistently good repertoire here to keep players going for quite some time!

It must be noted however that these are luxury publications which come with a premium price tag; I will explain later in the review why I think many should and will still be very tempted…

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Eusebius Mandyczewski: Little Cadences, Canons and Preludes

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The name Eusebius Mandyczewski may be new to you, so let me start this review by telling you a little bit about him…

Mandyczewski (1857-1929) was a Romanian musicologist, composer and conductor. From 1887 to 1929, he was the archivist and librarian of Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. He concurrently taught music history and counterpoint at the Conservatory of the Musikfreunde, where his students included Hans Gál, Gerge Szell and Karl Böhm.

As a composer, Mandyczewski fell into oblivion, having never quite achieved a decisive breakthrough despite writing several choral works, as well as two sets of piano variations, several song cycles and other vocal works published in his lifetime.

As a music editor he achieved enduring longevity however, producing a complete Schubert Edition and (with Gál) a complete edition of the works of Brahms, with whom he had enjoyed a close friendship over many years.

I have previously reviewed Mandyczewski’s benchmark edition of Brahms Complete Piano Works, and the same publisher now brings us the First Edition of his newly resurrected Little Cadences, Canons and Preludes for Pianoforte, dating from 1916, and first performed in public on September 2nd, 2018.

It’s an intriguing collection…

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Nicola Campogrande: ‘Nudo’

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In addition to their recent new editions and reissues of the music by Brahms and Busch, Breitkopf & Härtel continue to bring us fresh and brilliant new concert works.

Nicola Campogrande (b.1969, Turin, Italy) is one of today’s most exciting classical composers; his music has been performed around the world by such luminaries as Gauthier Capuçon and Lilya Zilberstein, with glowing praise from audiences and critics alike. Campogrande’s compositions have also been featured on more than 30 CD recordings from a variety of labels.

Since 2017, Campogrande has published exclusively with Breitkopf, and an early fruit of their partnership is the recent publication of a solo piano concert work intriguingly titled Nudo.

Let’s take a peek…

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Breitkopf’s Brahms and Busch

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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 Greatest Schumann?

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In a grand publishing milestone, Breitkopf & Härtel have reissued in seven volumes Robert Schumann’s complete piano works in the edition prepared by his widow Clara Schumann, and later updated with additional fingerings by the legendary pianist Wilhelm Kempff

Let’s dig straight into the fascinating history of this one ….

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