Choosing repertoire

Discuss the joys and pratfalls of performance

Postby Ursie » Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:56 pm

I've been trying to put together pieces for a performing diploma I would like to try for. It has to last about 35 mins and you have to choose from a list, but you are allowed 7 mins own choice as long as it is at the correct standard. This is what I have so far:-

Bach - Echo from French Overture
Beethoven - Sonata in F Minor Op2 no1
Brahms - Intermezzo in A Op118 no2
Ravel - Sonatine

The Bach piece is actually my own choice and isn't on the list. What I was wondering was whether anyone knows if this piece would be considered on the same level of difficulty as the others. I know it is a grade 8 level piece (UK AB exam board). However, the first movement of the Beethoven is also set for the grade 8 exam but for the diploma they are expecting a far superior performance of it - a level worthy of public performance and appreciation. I'm wondering whether the same could be said of the Bach. The following is taken from a cover sleeve of a CD of Angela Hewitt (I don't know who this person is - I just put a search in to see what would come back on the internet - but she certainly had a lot to say about the french overture and the other various piece on the CD).

"Bach makes dramatic use of the two keyboards by writing in echoes that require a rapid change of manual. On the piano, of course, this is a bit less dramatic, but the effect must still be there. The actual echoes do not always simply repeat what has gone before but often ornament it, adding that extra stroke of genius. Scheibe declared that Bach's music 'is exceedingly difficult to play because the efficiency of his own limbs sets his standards'. Fortunately Bach made no compromises!"

I suppose my question is whether, in your opinion, this would be too risky a piece to put in given that it was clearly written for a two keyboard harpsichord? Timewise it's a bit tight with it in but I really love it....
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:37 am


Are you playing all 4 movements of the Beethoven and all three of Ravel? Those would certainly take lots of time.

My suggestion: A Bach piece is a very good choice for contrast to the rest of the program, but I think it might be risky to do the Echo unless your control is such that you can make truly dramatic and instant contrasts between loud and soft levels, since the echo effect is the main point of this movement. Why don't you tape it and play it back so that you can really hear it objectively? Also, get another knowledgable person to listen WITHOUT telling them what it is or what the effect should be, and then ask them what they heard.

Otherwise, a fugue from WTC or something might be a better idea, or maybe a Scarlatti sonata.

Dr. Bill Leland.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
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Location: Las Cruces, NM

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