Summer Sonata Reading

There’s nothing like getting to know pieces through your fingers. I try to be doing a little bit of reading through new pieces all through the year, but summer naturally affords more time at the piano. My project this summer has been to go through as many as I can of the Ralph Kirkpatrick edition of 60 Scarlatti sonatas as published by Schirmer.  I hardly need to remind you of the delights of this music, with its quirky keyboard textures and unexpected harmonic moves. But maybe not everybody who uses that Schirmer edition is aware that Kirkpatrick recorded the same 60 pieces for Columbia Records. He used what he describes as a “frankly modern harpsichord” by John Challis. I am no lover of the harpsichord, much preferring to hear Bach, for example, on the piano. But Kirkpatrick’s instrument strikes me as having an exceptionally mellifluous sound, and I find his recordings delightful. Give these early sonatas a try:

Chilly Miscellany

It’s below freezing in Philly this morning, but no snow… yet. Here are a few items for you:

– I’ve been re-reading Ralph Kirkpatrick’s book on interpreting the Well-Tempered Clavier. In a section on technical matters, Kirkpatrick says:

I built up my own keyboard technique very largely on the exercises of Hummel’s piano method of 1828, which contains an admirably organized series of exercises designed to take care of nearly everything that the ten fingers need be expected to negotiate.

(Well, maybe not everything.)

I had not heard of the Hummel and was interested to learn more about it. Perhaps this would be something to add to my bookshelf of exercise books, something to draw upon in my own practicing. A quick visit to IMSLP revealed that I might need a separate shelf for the Hummel – it runs 468 pages! Admittedly a good size chunk of that is text, but still, not exactly the concise and practical resource for which I was hoping.

– Kile Smith reveals compositional secrets here.

– Someone has clearly spent time in school rehearsal rooms. The Anne Boleyn is especially nicely named.