Piano Technique: A fire and ice approach to learning pieces at breakspeed tempo

One of my Oberlin Conservatory piano teachers regarded Vladimir Horowitz as a fire and ice player. He referred to the maestro as having the uncanny ability to turn out a hot performance with a cool demeanor. (The physical control, of course, was AMAZING!)


Same applies to Yuja Wang, pianist, who delivers a sizzling performance of Bumbleebee.

Evgeny Kissin is equally well known for having steel nerves under fire plus jaw–dropping technique: (“La Campanella”)

And why not add a pulsating harpsichord performance rendered by Elaine Comparone: Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in D minor, K. 517

(Comparone’s learning style: “Lots of practice—–with metronome—-until it’s a cinch without it”)


While most of us will never rise to such levels of virtuosity, we can still try to incorporate a few hands-on techniques to assist in navigating notably challenging pieces. (Breathing through phrases is an important dimension our practicing right from the start–along with slow rendering with a singing pulse)

But using the fire/ice paradigm, as a point of departure, I explored five of Burgmuller’s colorful character pieces (Op. 100) that are played at brisk tempo and have swift, often abrupt mood changes: These include: “Ballade,” “The Chase,” “Inquietude,” and “Tarentelle.” (I also added “The Clear Stream” for its unwavering flow of triplets at peak speed)

The video below fleshes out an assortment of learning approaches




“La Chasse” (The Chase)


About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
This entry was posted in Burgmuller, Burgmuller Op. 100, classissima, classissima.com, Friedrich Burgmuller, piano, Shirley Kirsten, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video, you tube.com, yout tube, youtube, youtube.com and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s