Ruiz - La Peruanita
Interpreting the Music
Teaching & Learning the Piece
Ruiz: La Peruanita
• E minor, ends in G major
• Waltz style
• Sensitivity and grace needed in performance
• RH melody with LH chord accompaniment
• Suitable for hands that can play an octave
• Much jumping in LH
• Variety of touches and balance between hands
This charming dance in waltz tempo is called “The Little Peruvian Girl”. As well as depicting a little girl dancing, there is also a sense of the composer’s delighted response to this simplicity, grace and innocence. It will be highly suitable for a performer who is able to convey the scene with sensitivity and imagination.
Technically there are some challenges: the waltz-style LH always needs plenty of understanding and practice to be sure of the leaps. In the RH there are several places where a chord or note needs to be held under a moving upper part. Pedalling will be necessary – and not only where marked – but must be applied with care.
Fingering choices are important and there are some places where the student may find that the correct fingering may feel strange. For example in bars 2-3 LH the 5th finger will be pulled through to G past the 4th finger on F sharp. In bar 12 the suggested fingering for the chord seems “wrong” but enables the next bar to be played much more easily with the fingers staying in place. If your student finds it hard to place the LH 5th accurately on a black note, try using 4 (or even 3) on the A sharp in bar 15 – as long as they can make the jump back again accurately.
The given tempo will require agility in making the leaps, e.g. in bars 9 and 21 RH. Above all, the LH must be fully secure wherever there is a jump between a bass note and a chord that is not close by under the hand: bars 9-10, 14-15, 16-17, 19-21, 23-25, 30-end. In slow practice, make a point of arriving early at the new note or chord with the correct fingers.
At the early stages of learning and practising, these movements should be as direct as possible so that the distance is well understood, before the student introduces any expressive hand movements.
Bars 14-17 pose a series of difficulties. The rhythm is syncopated at first in the RH. In the LH the leaps are a little awkward and there is a danger of misreading the LH chord in bar 15. The chord as notated has a (diminished) third at the top but under the fingers it feels like a second (A sharp (=B flat) to C natural).
Finally, in Bar 16 the hand must move to a new position in order to play the quavers whilst the LH moves down to a low B for bar 17.
Tonal balance will be an important part of an excellent performance. From the first bar, the RH melodic line should be clear above the accompaniment. At bar 9 (“from the heart”) the dynamic level has reached mf so the LH can also be a little louder in support, but must never overpower the RH. At bar 17-20 and 25-28, where the dynamic is forte, allow the top notes of the RH to sound above the repeated notes underneath.
Although there is a sad mood to start the piece, its key moves from E minor to G major. This means a performer also needs to express a more cheerful feeling as the music goes on, leaving the listener with a smile at the end.