This is why I can’t get anything done.
It all started with the Charles Gounod blog post. I was doing my typical random walk through the internet, looking for interesting works to bring you, when I found the piano-pédalier: a grand piano fitted with a set of organ pedals hooked up to another piano. Oh my.
My first thought was that this instrument has to be every pianist’s nightmare (in which, perhaps, you arrive on stage to find, not a standard grand piano, but a piano-pédalier and a very expectant audience. And you may or may not be fully clothed. It is a nightmare after all).
So then I started looking for more information on the piano-pédalier, which led me to composer Charles-Valentin Alkan, who was, I found out, a master of the instrument. I plan to write a blog post about him. I also found out his works are deemed, let’s say, rather difficult, with the possible exception of some of his miniatures, that is, his Preludes (Op. 31) and his Esquisses (Op. 63). Since I’m all about playing the not-very-difficult, I decided to look for those. I will note, however, that the Preludes and Esquisses contain works in every major and minor key, so I’ll be skipping over some of those, particularly the ones with numerous sharps and flats. I found some recently published sheet music, and realized I own a book that has a couple of his pieces in it. I then also found his listing in the ever-popular imslp.org library of public domain sheet music. Which reminded me, in addition to the Alkan post, I still needed to write a post on the other library of sheet music I found. Soon!
So, later, I decided to listen to Alkan’s Preludes. I found them quite interesting, and regretted that I been doing Paperwork that Needed To Be Handled instead of sitting in a chair, with a cup of tea, following along with a score. I’ll just have to listen to them again! Soon!
A full day later, after doing Things Which Must Be Done (cooking, washing dishes, laundry, etc.), I remembered that I had not yet extracted my book of sheet music to see what Alkan pieces were included. So, settling into a chair with my music in one hand, and a cup of tea in the other, I found exactly two Alkan pieces oddly juxtaposed with one another: First Love Letter (Op. 63, No. 46) and Man in Clogs (Op. 63, No. 23). Was the First Love Letter from the Man in Clogs? To the Man in Clogs? It seemed an unlikely prospect. In addition to being in clogs, the Man in Clogs is also in a key with five flats, with lots of grace notes that seem to depict rather graceless walking. Hmmm…five flats and grace notes. Since I hadn’t looked at this book (Anthology of Romantic Piano Music) for a while, I decided to see who else was represented (and perhaps find some less challenging key signatures).
Surprisingly, there were works by Amy Beach, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and Clara Schumann, in addition to the usual suspects, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn (Felix), Rachmaninoff, Schumann (Robert), and Tchaikovsky, as well as others. My eyes settled upon a familiar name: Gabriel Fauré.
What a wonderful time I had last year learning and singing Fauré’s Requiem! What piece of his was here? Romance sans paroles [Romance without Words] Op. 17 No 3. Wait—this is do-able! (Have I done it already? If I did start learning it, I know I never finished.) The left hand is a very regular pattern; four flats, not so bad; a little messing about with the left pedal of the piano, and the right, but hey, it’s not like wrangling a piano-pédalier, right? I read through it in my head, and thought, yes, I’m going right to the piano to try this!
But then I realized I had better write this post before I forget the weaving path by which I came to this point. And so, due to the Romance Without Words, the Man in Clogs will have to wait just a little longer (perhaps he can read over his First Love Letter, a romance with words, while he’s waiting).
And Mr. Fauré will have to wait as well, because my tea is now cold, and I just need to go warm it up. Then, I promise, I’m going right to the piano. As soon as I answer this ringing phone…
- Anthology of Romantic Piano Music: Intermediate to Early Advanced Works by 36 Composers, Maurice Hinson, ed. Alfred Publishing Co, Inc., 2002.