Horak - Scherzino
Relatively little is known about the composer, Eduard Horak (1838/9 – 1892), indeed it is uncertain whether his date of birth was 1838 or 1839. He was born in Bohemia in the Czech Republic but he settled permanently in Vienna, where he and his brother, Adolf founded the Horak Pianoforte School.
Scherzino is one of many little teaching pieces that Horak composed for his students.
Pupil Match & Suitability
Small hands will easily manage this piece although the student needs to have the confidence to play at a quick pace. The only leap from one octave to another is after a pause, giving plenty of time to find the new hand position.
Style & Tempo
The style is playful and lighthearted, like a children’s game or like the excited chatter of children having fun. The Da Capo repeat should, of course, be observed.
It can be difficult to communicate just what makes a piece of music sound like a ‘little joke’, which is the literal translation of the word, ‘scherzino’. It is true, however, that the character of a performance is moulded by the essence of the music itself, enhanced by the integrity of the musician’s interpretation.
The following performance encapsulates lightheartedness in both interpretation and in musical content:
Kabalevsky Galop The Comedians BBC Philharmonic Orchestra Kathryn Stott piano
Phrasing & Articulation
The phrasing takes the form of four-bar question and answer and the young student might be inspired by the suggestions that either little jokes are being told or that children are taking part in a chasing game.
Tone & Texture
The tone should be light yet confident. There is scope for plenty of dynamic contrast in this piece and it will be noticed that the dynamics mirror the question and answer phrasing in the outer sections.
The following fingering will provide a sound starting point.
Pedalling is not be expected at Grade 1 Level, although and unusual student who is already confident with using the sustaining pedal could give a mere touch of pedal on the first chord of each phrase. Too much pedal would spoil the playful character of the piece.
Teaching a piece that features dotted rhythms is often a challenge because the prevalence of swing style in popular music can often persuade the student to play with rhythmic inaccuracy.
Counting out the rhythms as ‘one-two-and-three’ does little to help here as it is also perfectly possible to count this in too relaxed a manner.
This piece lends itself to practising in little chunks. Each four bar phrase could be learned with separate hands before being played much more slowly with hands together.
The student should be sure to practise the middle section just as many times as the outer sections. When a piece has a D.C. repeat, it is all too easy for the outer sections to become much more secure than the middle section simply because they are always played twice.
Fluency and accuracy may be difficult to achieve at a quick pace if the student has not memorised useful fingering.
An excellent performance will be one in which the playful character of the music is expressed in pace, articulation and dynamics. There will be confident fluency and dotted rhythms will be precise in accuracy throughout. The middle section will show a contrast in mood from the outer sections and the hands will be balanced to allow the melody to sing out in either hand.
A good performance will demonstrate a sense of character and there will be attention to expressive details. The tone may not be completely poised and the balance between hands that shows the melodic lines changing from RH to LH might not yet be successfully achieved. Accuracy will be mostly reliable, fluency largely secure.
A secure performance will have reliable continuity despite a few slips, with a secure feel for the three-time metre even though dotted rhythms may not be precise.
Some feel for the character will be emerging and a little dynamic contrast might be given although the pace may still be cautious.