Hong Kong Festival 2017 - Grade 6 Piano

Grade 6

Sonata in C minor - Cimarosa

1/ The main technical difficulty is the RH thirds at the start. Play with the upper note prominent, using a light touch and flexible wrist, not too legato. Thinking of these as a lightly slurred pair of semiquavers followed by another pair of semiquavers plus a quaver helps to prevent undue tension.

2/ Classical in style, needing elegant playing, well shaped phrasing and a buoyant, not-too-legato touch. Precise accuracy is particularly important so take special care to observe the rests and the pauses.

3/ Take care to balance the hands sensitively - the melody line is in the RH except for bb 21-26, where the LH needs prominence.

4/ Light touches of pedal will enhance the C major chords in the opening phrases (make sure the upper note sings out and keep inner notes quieter) and may be used sparingly at bars such as 11 and 12. Do not over-pedal; the textures need clarity.

5/ Play the ornament at b19 on the beat, as demisemiquavers like in b14. This is somewhat at odds with the recording by Failoni, but it does sound better.

6/ No dynamics are written in the score but dynamic contrasts and grading are definitely needed. Plan these according to the structure, keys and moods within the piece. The composer was famous for opera so you could think of different characters to give dynamic colour and character to the sections.

Sonata in C minor - Cimarosa played by Donatella Failoni

Improvisation V from Pieces Breves Pour Piano - Faure 

1/ Fingering for the opening bar and similar could be: 2 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 4 - 1 - 3, using 4 on the first note, A of bar 2. Check that chosen fingering works up to speed early in the learning process by trying out very short sections at intended tempo. Be sure to do slow practice as well.

2/ Needs to be played very expressively. with rubato and singing melody lines to create an improvisatory style and wistful character. This performance demonstrates sensitive use of rubato, with a confident feel for the phrasing and character, despite occasional, very small inaccuracies. 

3/ Accuracy points: 

  • Take special care with the 2 against 3 cross rhythms. 
  • Hold melody notes for full value in bars such as b8 and b13.

4/ The arpeggios may be shared between hands, especially where some of the notes are written in treble clef, eg bar 6.

5/ The main challenge is neatness and poised accuracy in the many shifts of hand position - learn carefully by identifying which chords are being used. 

6/ Lovely, long lines of phrase are necessary, with a thoughtful, unrushed start to them, as demonstrated in the recording by Anthony Spiri.

Improvisation - Faure played by Anthony Spiri

Fiesta - Mike Springer

1/ Technically relatively easy - the main difficulties are achieving rhythmic accuracy and a sense of style.

2/ To be played straight, in Latin style, not swing.

3/ There is much repetition, for example at bb 8 - 22 are replicated at bb 40 - 54.

4/ The middle section can provide a bright contrast to the outer sections.

5/ Care should be taken to observe all the performance markings, including accents and dynamic grading.

6/ Pedal may be used, but avoid over-pedalling as clarity of textures is needed.

7/ The tune is in the RH, and chordal textures need to be carefully balanced to make the upper notes prominent.

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