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Anthology of Impressionistic Piano Music--Intermediate- to Early-Advanced Works by Twenty Composers.

Anthology of Impressionistic Piano Music--Intermediate- to Early-Advanced Works by Twenty Composers, edited by Maurice Hinson. Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. (16320 Roscoe Blvd., Ste. 100, P.O. Box 10003, Van Nuys, CA 91410). 208 pp. $34.95.

Impressionism, with its beginnings in art and literature, found a means of expression in music through the works of Claude Debussy. In his piano works alone, one can find the atmospheric, the suggestive and subtle nuance of light and shade. The Anthology of Impressionistic Piano Music, edited by the highly regarded Maurice Hinson, represents Debussy through several of his well-known works, including selections from the Preludes and the entire Pour le piano suite. However, this comprehensive collection of intermediate-to early-advanced level pieces serves a greater purpose in revealing the compositions of some twenty composers influenced by the impressionistic aesthetic and who worked at one time in an impressionistic manner.

The wide range of impressionistic styles and idioms begins with the harmonic techniques of Frederic Chopin (Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4), the evocation of sounds by Franz Liszt (Cloches du soir) and the innovative concepts of harmony and timbre developed by Edvard Grieg (Klokkenklang). Representing most of Europe, as well as the Americas, the composers from the impressionistic period (ca. 1880-1920) include Maurice Ravel (Sonatine), Charles Griffes (The Vale of Dreams), Cyril Scott (Lotus Land), Alexander Tcherepnin (Flower-Drum), Frederico Mompou (Jeunes filles au jardin), Selim Palmgren (May Night), Alexander Gretchaninoff (Nocturne), Richard Strauss (Traumerei) and many others. An interpretation of impressionism from the late-twentieth century, Rendez-vous manque by Michel Block, also is included.

Practical elements for the teaching studio include brief discussions about the composers and their music, historical information, possible performance problems and suggestions, as well as the form of each piece. The importance of the pedals and the various techniques involved is akin to the combination of color and brushstrokes on a painting. To help achieve the proper sonority with refinement and clarity, Hinson has provided editorial pedal indications throughout the book and has even specified places to use half pedal and flutter pedal.

While the score layout is easy to read, with fingerings provided only where necessary, the inclusion of translated musical directions and pedal markings, combined with the already highly detailed notation, contributes to a somewhat cluttered appearance and would seem to provide almost too much clarity to these musical "impressions."

The supplementary DVD entitled Performance Practices in Impressionistic Piano Music is an attractively presented video-lecture featuring Hinson. Available with the anthology or separately, the disc is divided into four parts including "Early Influences," "Performance Techniques," "Musical Characteristics" and "Exploring the Repertoire." This one-hour presentation is an informative survey that covers many aspects of the impressionistic period and incorporates specific pieces from the anthology to demonstrate pedaling techniques and the proper approach to playing pianissimo.

The anthology and the DVD are worthwhile additions to the studio, both as teaching material and as a valuable reference guide. The skillful editing and the inclusion of a wide variety of teaching repertoire will provide many excellent options for the intermediate- to early-advanced level student. Reviewed by Christopher Hahn, Missoula, Montana.
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Author:Hahn, Christopher
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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