We’ve published four new video lessons for works from the intemediate and advanced grades from the 2023 & 2024 ABRSM piano examination syllabus. The works featured include Tchaikovsky’s beautiful barcarolle, June, Dorothy Pilling’s plaintive Philomela, a haunting Mazurka by Chopin and a lyrical sonata by Scarlatti.
Grade 5 B3: Pilling – Philomela
There is a plaintive, lamenting quality in Dorothy Pilling’s Philomela. The legendary character of Philomela was changed by magic into a nightingale, expressed by the singing line in the RH of this piece. In this excerpt, Graham Fitch explores the story behind the work and the opening theme:
Grade 6 A10: D. Scarlatti – Sonata in A, Kp. 208, L. 238
Born in 1685, the same year as J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel, Domenico Scarlatti wrote 555 single-movement, mostly binary form sonatas for the harpsichord (some possibly intended for the early piano). In this excerpt, Graham Fitch shows how pedalling can be used to add variations in tone colour and expression in this work:
Grade 7 B1: Chopin – Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 68 No. 2
The mazurka is a stylised Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo, with strong accents on the second or third beat. Chopin wrote over 50 mazurkas and this is an example of a slower one – there needs to be some leeway with the prescribed metronome speed of 116, given the lento marking.
The pedal markings in this work require some tweaking to make sense on our modern pianos – legato changes will give a smoother result than the direct pedals given in the score:
Grade 8 B3: Tchaikovsky – Juin: Barcarolle (No. 6 from Les saisons, Op. 37b)
Les saisons (The Seasons) is a collection of 12 pieces each piece bearing the title of a month of the year inspired by an epigram from a Russian poet. The epigram for Juin: Barcarolle is worth keeping in mind as we study the piece:
“Let us go to the shore; there the waves will kiss our feet. With mysterious sadness the stars will shine down on us.”
It’s very easy to be overly pedantic about pedalling and rests, but in romantic music we don’t need to be as concerned about things like the exact length of rests if we understand what the composer’s might have been. In this video excerpt, Graham Fitch gives suggestions for approaching pedalling in this hauntingly beautiful, romantic piece:
Click here for links to view the full videos on the Online Academy!
Click here to view the full index of available videos, including links to several from previous and other syllabuses (further information on our project for the previous 2021 & 2022 syllabus is available here).
Videos for over 70 pieces have been recorded already and are currently in the various stages of the editing process. Several further shoots are planned and we will be releasing the videos in frequent installments over the coming months. Please click here to sign-up to our mailing list for updates and notifications on this project and our resources for piano examinations.
Practising the Piano Online Academy
The Practising the Piano Online Academy is the ultimate online resource for mastering the piano. It features a constantly growing library of thousands of articles, videos and musical excerpts on topics including practising, piano technique and performing from leading experts. Please click here to find out more about the Online Academy or on one of the options below to subscribe:
- Monthly subscription – Subscribe for £13.99 a month to get full, unlimited access to all Online Academy articles and updates (click here to sign-up for this option)
- Annual subscription – Save almost 30% on the monthly subscription with an annual subscription for £119.99 per year and get free eBooks and editions worth over £70! (click here to sign-up for this option)