8.06.2010

Prelude Mania!

Oh, FedEx/Kinkos! How I thank thee! It turns out that it's ridiculously cheap to download some public domain sheet music off the Petrucci Project, slap it on a flash drive, and get the good people of Spokane Falls Blvd to hand you back your heart's desire. My unabashed lust for prelude sets has been satiated and whetted all at once as I sit here with my glossy covered, comb-bound, quality B&W beauties.
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First up is Stephen Heller's 24 Preludes, Op 81. He was a contemporary of Chopin, but lacked a certain charisma and way with the schmoozing of the patrons to rise to fame. He is mostly known for children's etudes with fanciful names like "the Avalanche" and... I guess that's the only one I can think of. There's probably one called "Longing". Mark my words. Op. 81 was written post-Chopin's Op. 28, and I believe bear the mark of Chopin's transformative handing of the genre. Double circle of fifths is his progression. The pieces are between one page and three. It seems quite light on the most part, especially this characteristic tempo indication, "Thrown off swiftly and easily, like a pen-and-ink sketch", of No. 10 in C-sharp minor. Very excited to try them out.
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Next is F. Busoni's 24 Preludes, Op. 37. Someone wrote that it was composed in 1879-80 on the first page. Don't know a lot about Ferrucio here, other than his hyper-romantic editions of Bach. Much longer pieces, bound to be fraught with technical difficulties and emotional disturbances. There are I think three outright fugues and they all seem to be allegro. A much larger challenge, but a wonderful adventure!
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Lastly there's C.V. Alkan's 25 Preludes for piano or organ, Op. 31. Also a Chopin contemporary (they might have played a four-hand piece together at a Mendelssohn concert?) and quite an imaginative fellow if I can glean anything from this set. I do not know what progression he uses, just that it starts and finishes with very prayerful C Major pieces. In between there are all manner of types, with all manner of imaginative names. I don't think the titles are an attempt to compensate for musical inadequacy. The "Little Nothing" even cuts right to that foible of the genre piece. He seems lavish and a bit pedantic at the same time. All the more challenging to bring the fire out of them if there's any to find!

Now all I need is my piano fixed!
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PS I neglected to mention a purchase made in Santa Barbara when we were visiting family: Kabalevsky's very own 24 Preludes, Op. 38. Very much a celebration of Russian folk song, I hear.

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