Although it was written for solo piano, different arrangements abound. The first version I heard, actually, was Joshua Bell on violin with orchestral accompaniment. Best of all, once the holidays had passed, the Christmas CDs shelved for the year, Mr. Or is that just me? Tell me some of you do the same. It always sounds fresh, nuanced, and ephemeral.
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Despite its apparent simplicity, this short bar piece is actually deceptively difficult to bring off. My enhanced study edition aims to give practical solutions to the numerous problems in pedalling the work poses, together with fingerings and exercises that will make some of the more awkward passages much easier to manage. The study score contains comprehensive footnotes with text and musical examples; there are also short video clips you can view by scanning the QR codes with your phone as you practise.
He uses conventional diatonic harmony blended in with pentatonic scales, modal cadences as well as parallel chord movement. As in all the preludes, the title comes at the end of the piece, in brackets. It is as though Debussy wanted the listener to form their own impressions of the music first — unencumbered by any preconceptions. French music of this period requires a style of playing that is in general much cooler and more objective than Germanic music, for example.
We should guard against romanticising the piece by not adding extra rubato — Debussy marks all timings and articulations scrupulously in the score. The dynamic level of the first half of the piece is predominantly p ; after the climax in bar 21 a mere mf we find passages at the pp level. Balance in the chordal passages bar , and needs to be carefully judged so that the upper notes are clearly audible, but with just the right amount of substance from the lower notes to create a unified texture at the required dynamic level.
Achieving the right sound requires a lot of experimentation in the practice room — this can be quite a painstaking process relying on careful, critical listening.
Pedalling is problematic in this piece, requiring thought and organisation — especially in the places with big LH chords bars 6, , and 36 and where a bass note needs to be caught in the pedal. Timing the foot with the hands precisely is key in these places. The pedal markings I have included in my study edition are suggestions only. I have not indicated the shift soft pedal at all una corda but it is of course there to be used and can certainly assist in creating tonal contrast.
Remember that the shift pedal changes the timbre of the sound, and its effects depend largely on the individual piano. It is not all to do with creating a soft dynamic but rather a woolly, unfocussed type sound and can therefore be used in dynamics up to about the mf level experiment with playing firmly with the shift pedal down. When all is said and done pedalling is a subtle and personal matter that can never really be notated satisfactorily. It varies from one instrument to another, from one room, or one hall, to another.
A legato fingering is essential in a legato context wherever possible, not only for joins but also to ensure good phrase shaping and natural timings. I have indicated fingerings that help achieve a legato by hand where appropriate , and these include finger substitutions and sliding the 5th finger from a black note to a white to avoid breaking the line.
Both hands in bars and can be connected by hand; it requires positioning the hand so that fingers can go under or indeed over other fingers but it can be done and will feel and sound very good with a little perseverance. Practise such spots without pedal, getting as close as possible to a connected sound before adding the pedal carefully remember you do not have to go all the way to the bottom of the pedal.
Here is a practice exercise for this spot, applicable to when the passage comes back towards the end too. It is always interesting to listen to orchestral transcriptions of piano music when available. This version, arranged by Leopold Stokowski, is full of colour and interest. Click here to view the walkthrough and practice worksheets on the Online Academy.
If you are subscriber then these online resources including the walk-through and practice worksheets are available as part of your subscription. Otherwise please click here to find out more about the subscription options. If you are a premium subscriber or own our Annotated Study Edition bundle, then the complete study edition with links to online resources has been added to your account automatically and can be accessed from the My eBooks section of the Online Academy website. Click here to cancel reply.
Featuring a comprehensive library of lessons, articles and resources, the Practising the Piano Online Academy is the ultimate online resource for pianists, teachers and anyone seeking to master the piano. More info. Visit site. How to access this study edition and online resources? Walkthrough and practice worksheet Click here to view the walkthrough and practice worksheets on the Online Academy. Annotated Study Edition If you are a premium subscriber or own our Annotated Study Edition bundle, then the complete study edition with links to online resources has been added to your account automatically and can be accessed from the My eBooks section of the Online Academy website.
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Debussy’s “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” Krystian Zimerman
The piece is 39 measures long and takes approximately two and a half minutes to play. The piece, named after the eponymous poem by Leconte de Lisle , is known for its musical simplicity, a divergence from Debussy's style at the time. Completed in January , it was published three months later and premiered in June of that same year. The prelude is one of Debussy's most recorded pieces, both in its original version and in subsequent various arrangements. Briscoe in the music journal 19th-Century Music. On the lucerne midst flowers in bloom, Who sings praises to morning? It is the girl with golden hair, The beauty with lips of cherry.
Debussy’s “Girl With the Flaxen Hair”