Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The composer’s Metronome Marking and how pianists deal with it

I encountered a few performances of Burgmuller's "Harmony of the Angels" Op. 100, that were so briskly played, that I made sure to consult the composer's Metronome Marking for a reality check. And it was true that Dr. Alan Huckleberry and Phillip Sear, were the "speediest" players on You Tube. While they were not consistently within the quarter=152 per minute framing, they had a nearly matched fundamental pulse as a starting point that still allowed for expressive give and take, (rubato) within the Romantic genre. Of the two performances, I leaned toward Mr. Huckleberry's reading.

In the spirit of adventure, I decided to join in and try to approximate the composer's MM, though I was a lot more at home on lyrical and expressive levels with a more moderate "allegro" tempo. (The latter would be my aesthetic preference.)

Nonetheless, I found it valuable to try to approximate the composer's marking without sacrificing the expressive dimension of playing.

My preferred tempo framing:

Some thoughts on learning "Harmony of the Angels"

Regardless of selected tempo, the triplets must seamlessly unfold in a horizontal flow. The very basic legato touch, that enlists weight transfer, a floating arm, supple wrist, fused with the imagination, relaxed breaths and attentive listening, promotes expressive playing.

Blocking out the sonorities from left hand to right in slow practice tempo is a good starting point before unraveling them in broken chord sequence. Incremental raises in the pulse should follow gradually. Keeping thumbs from poking out is a keen challenge through relentless triplet strands so they should be feather light.

Original Content: The composer's Metronome Marking and how pianists deal with it

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