A piece that’s popular among piano students and often steers them back on course, is Burgmuller’s “Ballade.” In previous blogs, I highlighted “The Chase,” “Harmony of the Angels,” and “Tarentelle,” from this Op. 100 Collection of 25 Progressive Pieces.
Burgmuller’s tableau in C minor, (“Ballade”) seems to capture the spirit of Halloween in its opening that’s marked misterioso though the title might suggest otherwise. Nonetheless, when I play this composition, I think of scary images in the first two phrases of part A, before full blown Romantic era lyricism is on display in the Interlude, Part B, in mood changing C MAJOR.
Finally the spooks return in a repeat of Part A (back to “minor”) followed by an added miniature ending (Codetta)
Ballade presents many technical and musical challenges:
1) In Part A and its return, the left hand needs to be fleshed out above the redundant chords played by the Right Hand. Balance of voices is essential.
2) The middle section, Part B, brings a shift in character and voicing as the left hand chords provide a harmonic underpinning for a lovely, lyrical melody needing nuance and shaping.
3) With the return of Part A, a culminating “Codetta” requires the player to go with the flow no matter how unpredictable. The ins and outs of this mini-ending can be a pianist’s nightmare if not carefully paced.