Women Composers: A Graded Anthology

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Hot on the heels of Karen Marshall’s lovingly curated HerStory from Faber Music, which I recently reviewed here, Schott Music bring us three brilliantly compiled and vividly presented collections of music by neglected female composers past and present.

Melanie Spanswick’s Women Composers: A Graded Anthology is equally as groundbreaking, and being a larger series these books offer space to a wider and more diverse range of repertoire, particularly in their inclusion of playful jazz and 20th century piano works.

It is interesting to note that of the 30 works in Marshall’s book and the 52 more here, not only are there no actual duplicates, but few of the composers themselves appear twice, an extraordinary confirmation (were it needed) that the pool of neglected music by female composers is a deep one indeed.

So let’s cast an eye over Spanswick’s series…

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Beethoven: Klavierstücke

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Beethoven’s 35 Piano Sonatas and 22 Variations sets are at the very summit not only of his own creative output for the instrument, but are a climax of the classical keyboard repertoire. They are not, however, the sum total of the great composer’s output for solo piano…

With their latest volume, Wiener Urtext Edition UT 50295 amass his other works in one essential 260-page reference compendium, including 31 pieces with opus numbers (all but one published in the composer’s lifetime) and 36 without, one of which was newly rediscovered in 2020.

All works included are edited from the sources by Jochen Reutter, whose recent edition of the complete Sonatas for Wiener Urtext I reviewed here, with fingerings and notes on interpretation by Sheila Arnold.

Wiener Urtext has further issued three shorter folio editions of individual works, and in this review I will also detail those for your interest.

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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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Yeol Eum Son plays Kapustin

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South Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son, since bursting onto the classical music scene (when she was aged just 18) as a concerto soloist with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Lorin Maazel in 2004, has steadily developed an impressive discography with Decca and latterly with Onyx.

Highlights have included solo recitals of repertoire from Schumann to Stravinsky, a pristine recording of Mozart’s 21st Concerto with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Sir Neville Marriner, and duo recordings with violinists Clara-Jumi Kang, Svetlin Roussev and oboist Kyeong Ham.

But for the unconverted, Son’s latest disc, an audacious recital of music by Kapustin, wipes away any doubt that she is a significant emerging artist for our century. And it is another easy choice for inclusion in my Recording of the Month series. So let’s find out more…

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Patrik Pietschmann’s Movie & TV at the Piano

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Describing Patrik Pietschmann as an “internet sensation” is something of an understatement. Boasting stats that comprehensively put most online pianists to shame, the German YouTuber’s epic piano arrangements of popular soundtracks have gained him 1.59 million subscribers and over 400 million video views.

Now, in something of a publishing coup, Schott Music bring us his first printed collection, delivering ten of his most globally popular arrangements. This clearly isn’t to be missed; here’s the Pianodao review…

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Martin Stadtfeld’s Händel Variations

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At the age of seven, Martin Stadtfeld had a clear vision of his career goal: to become a concert pianist. From his first piano lessons with Hubertus Weimar he explored counterpoint and harmony. At 14 he went on to study with Lev Natochenny in Frankfurt, and by the age of just 22 he had signed to SONY Music Germany and released his debut CD: a recording of Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations.

Fast forward a decade and a half, and with a string of successful recordings behind him (including Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Chopin), Stadtfeld turned to Handel for inspiration for his 2019 Händel Variations recording. Transcribing the great Baroque composer’s themes to produce fresh new piano showpieces, much as he had previously done for his Hommage to Bach album the previous year, Stadtfeld scored another hit.

And now, following the album’s popularity, Schott Music have delivered the official sheet music score of Stadtfeld’s “transcriptions for piano solo on themes by Georg Friedrich Händel”. Let’s have a look…

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Tim Richards: Beginning Jazz Piano

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Tim Richards is well established as one of the UK’s leading jazz educators, having burst onto the scene with his best-selling book Improvising Blues Piano, which set a new standard in jazz education publishing upon its first release back in 1997.

Since then Richards has produced a steady flow of publications in partnership with Schott Music, including the excellent Exploring Jazz Piano volumes 1 and 2, and more recent Blues, Boogie and Gospel Collection, which I described in my 2016 Pianodao review,

“…not simply as the best “jazz piano” publication of the year, but probably the best of the decade so far.”

Now he’s back with two chunky new books. Beginning Jazz Piano Parts 1 and 2 are billed as a new jazz method for players who already have some piano experience and a basic technique, and claim to offer “an introduction to swing, blues, latin and funk”.

Let’s find out whether these handsome publications live up to the sky-high standards of Richards’ previous work…

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Happy Birthday Schott Music!

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Schott Music have celebrated their 250th Anniversary Year in style, with a number of special publications to commemorate their history.

I have already reviewed the brilliant Joy of Music collection for piano (and you can read my review here) and I’m equally excited about Happy Birthday Schott Music, a new collection of 10 ‘piano-bar’ arrangements of well-known Schott melodies by the indefatigable Carsten Gerlitz.


Gerlitz’s arrangements for piano and choral music have been published in more than 250 books, including dozens in Schott Music’s Schott Piano Lounge series, which this collection joins…

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Schott’s ‘Joy of Music’

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Schott Music is one of the world’s oldest and most revered music publishers, with a back catalogue that includes first editions of some of the greatest compositions in the history of Western Music.

Founded in 1770 by Bernhard Schott in Mainz, the distinguished publishing house celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2020, and Pianodao joins the music-loving community in congratulating them on this brilliant milestone.

Schott have themselves released a few new publications in which they celebrate their heritage, two of which I am now reviewing. Carsten Gerlitz’s Happy Birthday Schott Music will be reviewed separately, and in this article I will be looking at The Joy of Music: Discoveries from the Schott Archives, a collection of virtuoso and entertaining pieces of piano music for advanced players.

As Schott explain:

“To mark this anniversary, the Schott publishing house has dug up and reedited treasures from its historical publishing archives.”

Let’s lift the lid and see what’s inside this treasure chest….

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Melanie Spanswick: Simply Driven

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Melanie Spanswick enjoys a successful career as a pianist, teacher, writer and blogger. In recent years she has added composer to this list, with a succession of publications beginning with easy minimalist pieces for EVC Music, and now writing for Schott Music.

I have previously reviewed her collection No Words Necessary (written for intermediate pianists) here on Pianodao, as well as her series Play it Again for adult returning pianists. Her latest book Simply Driven is a collection of 5 “Virtuoso Pieces”, which are suitable for players at around Grade 8 and above…

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