ABRSM • Piano Inspiration

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

ABRSM Publishing continue to focus on bringing out superb anthologies for different instruments and levels, widening the scope of developing players’ musical engagement. Their recent publishing successes for piano have included the three jazz collections Nikki Iles and Friends and the superb Pop Performer books which arrived last year.

Now they bring us two new anthologies of solo piano repertoire, curated by concert artist Isata Kanneh-Mason. These are notable collections which, for reasons I will unpack in this review, immediately rise to the top of my pile of recommended piano publications.

The first book is suitable for intermediate players in the Grade 4-6 bracket, the second for more advanced players, Grades 7-8+ (ARSM). Refreshingly, but potentially frustrating for some, the specific grade levels of the individual pieces are not stipulated, even though ABRSM twice suggest on the covers that the pieces can be used as own-choice repertoire in their Performance Grades.

Kanneh-Mason’s selections mix surprise with delight, novelty with familiar favourites, delivering an intoxicating and diverse blend of music that quite simply belongs on the piano of every player working at these levels.

Having already given a rough outline and positive verdict, I will shortly go on to list the musical contents of each book, describe the publications for the benefit of those unable to inspect them in a music store, and attempt to frame these volumes in their broader context…

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ABRSM’s Core Classics

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Once in a while, a publication arrives for review which is based on a great concept and is itself essentially a very good product, but where the mismatch between the original intention and its actual delivery is a glaring one, as though at some point in the developmental process there was a communication breakdown.

Core Classics: Essential Repertoire for Piano, a set of seven progressively “graded” solo repertoire books published by ABRSM, is a striking example of this, and rather a missed opportunity. The series is certainly a beautifully presented and musically interesting one, but despite very considerable strengths, it falls short of its stated ambition.

So let’s find out exactly what the series has to offer…

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