Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Quilter's piano pieces

I don't buy a lot of music online, either downloaded music or actual sheet music. However, about three weeks ago I happened upon the fact that Roger Quilter (1877-1953) had written some piano music. I'm familiar with a number of his songs, almost all of which I love, and which, in some cases I've been playing for singers for decades. I'd never heard of his piano music, and thought I'd check it out.

In the end the only ones I could access easily that particular day were a set called Three Studies. They were written early in his career if the opus number is anything to go by - Opus 4 - but already they have some of the tone or fingerprints of the his later works. The word 'studies' tends to make you think of something dry and tedious, but Quilter was incapable of being dry or tedious, and these works are a delight.

However, all three are marked to be played at considerable speed - I thought this might have something to do with him being a young man when he wrote them, but they were published in 1923, by which time he was 46. It's likely they're young-man-works that were published much later, since his Opus 11 was written around 1909.

I'm not sure that I'd want to play them as fast as indicated: Number I is marked Molto allegro con moto with a crochet racing along like a greyhound in a race at 184; number II is Molto allegro amabile and is marked somewhat slower, at crochet equally 160. The third is Vivace misterioso e legato, and the crochet marking is 176. None of these speeds gives much room for breathing.

I can't play them accurately at any of those speeds at the moment, and I'm not sure that I'd want to. I think they'd all benefit from having some space between the notes, though obviously they have to move.


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