Granados - Danza de la Rosa
This attractive piece by the Spanish composer, Granados (1867 -1916) has almost universal appeal. Although Danza de la Rosa was composed in 1912 as part of a collection of works, Escenas Poeticas, the style is essentially Romantic, with a compelling Spanish flavour.
The second half of the piece, especially, has obvious references to Flamenco guitar playing in the grace notes, which should be played before the beat.
The flavour of the Spanish guitar may be heard here in another piece by Granados, originally composed for piano. The transcription for guitar works very well.
Pupil Match & Suitability
Many students will comfortably manage the first half of the piece but the second half is where the challenges lie and students who are not happy with controlling ornamentation may find they run into technical difficulties in bars 11 - 24.
Students studying this piece may like also to try Orientale, one of the Spanish Dances, by Granados, heard here played by the composer himself.
Style & Tempo
The rhythmic feel should be dance-like and the editorial metronome mark of crotchet = 96 works, although a slightly slower pace could be equally effective. Indeed, the composer's directions, 'non vivo e molto semplice con ritmo' suggest that he did not want the piece to be played at all quickly.
The most expressive professionally recorded performances are often taken more slowly, as in the lovely recording by Douglas Riva on Naxos.
Martin Jones, heard here on the Nimbus label also starts the piece at a slower pace of around 88 crotchet bpm, becoming even slower, of course, in the 'meno' at bars 9 and 10.
The slightly slower tempo could help students with neat control in bars 17 - 26 onwards.
Phrasing & Articulation
An impression of legato needs to be maintained through the melody lines, with the phrase markings not taken to mean any gaps in the sound, but rather to give a sense of relative strength of the notes.
The recording here is by
Tone & Texture
The piece is to be played mainly pianissimo, but dynamic grading should shape the phrasing. The melody lines need to be well defined in relation to the quieter, inner accompaniment chords.
The pedal, if used as suggested, will sustain the dotted minim, bass notes through the bar. The LH will go over the top (sopra) of the RH to play the repeated Fs at the start, which should not be as loud as the melody line.
The ornamentation needs to be unobtrusive and controlled in evenness of tone, whether in the RH in bars 11 - 16 or in the LH at bars 17 - 24, heard here.
The main technical difficult is, without doubt, the LH grace notes from bar 17. The student would do well to practise playing these before starting the piece, at different speeds, at different octaves, in a very relaxed way with a turn of the wrist rather than working the fingers unnecessarily.
Contrary to the way many students approach these notes, they do not need to be played as fast as possible, but rather to slide effortlessly in before the LH F. As long as they sound more like a triplet than like 'in-time' semiquavers they will be quick enough to give the right impression. The fingering given really does work well and is highly recommended.
Very careful pedalling, as shown in the score, is advisable in the final section, especially the changes at bar 29 - 30, where the LH should remain on the keys to sustain the bass notes until the RH F of bar 30 is played.
The final chords should be savoured, rather than hurried. Do remember the pause on the last note, staying focused on the music until hands and pedal are lifted very gently.
A variety of methods will be useful in teaching this piece. Because the creation of sensitively balanced textures is so important, this aspect should be considered in the lessons.
To give a firm feel for the melody lines, the student could play just the tune, while the teacher plays the accompaniment.
Variations on this are then possible, such as alternate playing of just the bass notes, or even just the inner harmonies (which could be played up an octave unless there are two pianos in the room).
Practice time should take into account the degree of challenge in each section of the piece. The LH needs to be completely independent of the RH in fluency, so separate hands practice of the most technically taxing sections may well be needed for quite some time.
Because the note values are long at bar 26, many students do not actually make the rallentando, even thought they believe they do!
Similarly, the 'lento' tempo starting at bar 27 may not be slow enough. The forte RH G in bar 27 needs to stand out as a strong tone, but without being forced and notice that the RH then takes the top part of the chord.
The best performances of this piece will create a vivid sense of Spanish scene, by use of confident flourishes for the ornamentation and by intuitive tempo changes. The melody lines will sing out clearly and the sustaining pedal will be carefully used to enhance and sustain without blurring the harmonies.
Here is the complete performance by Douglas Riva.
(Permission via PRS licence)