Barbara Arens: One Hand Piano

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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…

Continue reading Barbara Arens: One Hand Piano

Joachim Raff: Heralds of Spring

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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…

Continue reading Joachim Raff: Heralds of Spring

Greater in Major, Finer in Minor

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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…

Continue reading Greater in Major, Finer in Minor

Eusebius Mandyczewski: Little Cadences, Canons and Preludes

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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…

Continue reading Eusebius Mandyczewski: Little Cadences, Canons and Preludes

Nicola Campogrande: ‘Nudo’

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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…

Continue reading Nicola Campogrande: ‘Nudo’

Breitkopf’s Brahms and Busch

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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.

Continue reading Breitkopf’s Brahms and Busch

The Greatest Schumann?

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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 ….

Continue reading The Greatest Schumann?

Joachim Raff’s Piano Sonatas

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


At the peak of his success in the 1870’s, Joachim Raff (1822-1882) was one of the most celebrated composers in the world, his eleven symphonies popular in concert halls across Europe and beyond, his marvellous body of solo and four-hand piano music a staple of the repertoire.

And yet, but the time of his death a few years later, his star was already in decline, his fall from fashion remarkably rapid. His music languished largely unperformed through the twentieth century, and is only now being properly reappraised, enjoying something of a revival.

Of Raff’s 216 works with opus numbers, 117 are works for piano solo, 54 for four-handed piano, and 23 piano arrangements of works by other composers. Concert pianist Tra Nguyen has led the charge to rediscover some of this extraordinary music, her stunning recordings revealing the quality of Raff’s writing and once again elevating him to a position alongside Brahms and his contemporaries.

Nguyen’s recordings for Naxos’s Grand Piano label are available to stream via the major platforms, and can be bought as a budget 6CD set from Amazon UK here. They are well worth exploring!

Introducing his new scholarly urtext edition of Raff’s three Piano Sonatas, recently published by Edition Breitkopf, Ulrich Mahlert suggests:

“It was precisely the enormous scope of Raff’s creativity that was one of the reasons why his works were not paid so much attention, because a differentiated engagement with so many compositions is time-consuming. The disregard of abundance went along with generalised, stereotypically repeated negative judgments, obscuring the view or even preventing dealing with Raff’s music at all. Thus, an unfortunate cycle of ignorance emerged which we hope that the present edition can help overcome.”

With that goal in mind, let’s consider Mahlert’s new edition of the Piano Sonatas.

Continue reading Joachim Raff’s Piano Sonatas

8 Great Piano Duet Books

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


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!

Continue reading 8 Great Piano Duet Books

Barbara Arens: Piano Misterioso

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


In my review of Barbara Arens’ ’21 Amazingly Easy Pieces’ last month I concluded:

“The partnership between composer and publisher has clearly worked brilliantly here, and the resulting book is quite simply a delight. Let’s hope for more to come!”

I’m therefore particularly happy to be reviewing the follow up ‘Piano Misterioso’, especially as all the praise offered in my previous review equally applies here. It is clear that publishers Breitkopf & Härtel have again given their full professional attention to editorial detail, beautifully presenting Barbara’s latest pieces with class and distinction.

Continue reading Barbara Arens: Piano Misterioso

21 Amazingly Easy Pieces

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES


21 Amazingly Easy Pieces is an original collection of new pieces by Barbara Arens, published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 2014, which has recently come to my attention, and I am seriously impressed with it.

Composer Barbara Arens is a passionately dedicated piano teacher. She began her studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg at the age of 13. After a concert career performing primarily as harpsichordist and organist, she now puts her diverse abilities and experiences into composing for her piano
pupils. She presently lives near Würzburg, Germany, after living in Beirut, Dallas, San Francisco, Singapore, Salzburg, London and Munich.

Knowing that Barbara has such extensive experience – of performing, of teaching, and of the world – gave me high hopes for these books, and I was not disappointed.

Continue reading 21 Amazingly Easy Pieces