Latvian, arr Garūta - Silta, jauka istabiņa

Interpreting the Music

Teaching & Learning the Piece

Latvian, arr Gar¬ūta: Silta, jauka istabiņa

• E major
• Folksong arrangement
• Expressing cosiness and love at home
• Both hands play the melody
• Counter melodies in both hands
• Need to hold on to inner parts in places
• Pedal not essential, but preferable for full effect
• One or two stretches but not impossible for small hands

The arranger of this song was a concert pianist turned composer, with a strong love of Latvian folk music. She wrote a patriotic cantata in 1943 during the second world war which was given its premiere at the Cathedral in Riga (Latvia’s capital) whilst the sounds of war raged outside. This cantata was banned during the Soviet era and was revived in 1990 when Latvia had regained independence.

This folk song evokes a warm indoor room and a loving mother. It will suit a student who is capable of playing very expressively and with a heartfelt quality. There should be no stiffness or embarrassment about showing deep feelings to the audience. Technically the music requires an ability to hold on to inner parts correctly and to balance the tone across the texture with a warm and singing sound dominating.

The editorial suggestion con Ped leaves all pedalling options open to the performer, including that of minimal or no pedal (the last two bars should be pedalled anyway for the tied chord to continue sounding). At this grade, some students may be confident and skilled in pedalling whilst others will only know the basics.

This piece will be useful for teaching them to achieve a new level of sensitivity in listening to the pedalled sound and making gentle changes as needed. You may wish to try different pedalling schemes and discuss their effect with your student. For example, semiquavers may sound blurred if pedalled, but that may be a sound you prefer as part of the sense of warmth. The normal advice to pedal each chord change is a good starting point. Beyond that, careful listening and alterations to this norm will be needed, as the chord is not always clearly defined and melody notes may need to be clarified. Bars 3-6, for instance, could be played with no pedal, with a change on each beat, or with a few touches of pedal. The piano used for performance will also influence the eventual choice of pedalling, and you should pick a couple of bars that your student should try out on the performance piano if they get a chance. Do use the UC pedal in the last two bars to enhance the pianissimo.

Although the piece is likely to be pedalled, all the note lengths should be carefully observed. Ensure your student remembers held notes and makes “vertical” checks e.g. at the end of bar 14 where there should be three notes. This will affect fingering choices. In hands-separate practice the legato must be constantly checked. In bar 12, the given fingering only works with pedal but can be altered to enable the minim to be held through without pedal. Bar 3 LH is unnecessarily given 2 on D sharp when the E is already played by the RH.

The changing time signatures may look like a complication on the page but in practice the music naturally flows with a constant quaver movement.
Dynamics are carefully indicated. Beyond the main dynamic level, phrases and melodies should be shaped with gentle rise and fall. Repeated notes (e.g. bar 5) must each have a different dynamic level so that they are not mere repetitions.

Beyond the dynamics the best performances will have a clear control of tonal balance. The melody must always sing out. The accompaniment should never dominate, but a third dimension to this music is the extensive use of countermelody. This is most expressively significant in bars 11-16, where it is worth playing the LH melody with the top line of the RH to help understand how they fit together.

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