I made a promise to myself well before the New Year, that I would learn one new Tchaikovsky composition each day from the composer’s Op. 39 Children’s Album. (24 tableaux) Not that I’m recommending to piano students that they assimilate new music at lightning speed, but for me the challenge was to make a spurt of growth without sacrificing quality in my quickened journey. In fact, often an early reading is like experiencing the first sunrise with a childlike gaze.
The Back Story
Rada Bukhman’s gift to the music world, The Magic Link, had arrived for Chanukah with its colorful bouquet of program-driven piano miniatures that were sensitively juxtaposed offerings of Peter Ilyich and Robert Schumann.
In a heartbeat, I bonded to Tchaikovsky’s pieces, perhaps because my *DNA (Russian background) increased my affection for the composer’s emotion-packed music, yet, simultaneously, I appreciated the teaching value of each and every tender musical morsel.
The following selections from the Op. 39 collection received my latest embrace, winning me over with their grace and beauty.
The Organ Grinder Sings
Morning Prayer (hymn-like)
From a teaching perspective:
Each musical tapestry requires a vivid imagination coupled with a singing tone repository. Bigger than finger energies, a supple wrist and relaxed arms allow for a legato (connected touch) when needed, and a diversified staccato (crisp notes in contrasting dynamics) as well as tenuto execution (detached, press lift approaches with a leaning emphasis).
Finally, a tasteful rubato (flexibility of time) and sensitive use of the sustain pedal apply to both dance and song forms, fleshing out their character and emotion.
Addendum: A performance of Op. 39 that made the most overall indelible impression on me, came from the late Brigitte Engerer who sang like a nightingale with imagination and artistry.
*My Family’s history and genealogy