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The Art of Piano Pedaling: Two Classic Guides, Anton Rubinstein and Teresa Carreno.

edited by Joseph Banowetz and Brian Mann. Dover Publications, Inc. (31 E. 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11501), 2003. 77 pp. $11.95.

The introductions written by Joseph Banowetz and Brian Mann are important additions to this volume. They provide a brief, yet enlightening, historical perspective of pedal use prior to the publication of these two guides.

Originally written in Russian in 1886 by a student of Anton Rubinstein's brother Nikolai, the Guide to the Proper Use of the Pianoforte Pedals is a reproduction of tile 1897 English translation from the German edition, and is a fascinating period pedagogical study. Using specific examples from Anton Rubinstein recitals of 1885-1886 as its point of departure, the Guide offers readers a nuts-and-bolts approach to the "new" pedaling concepts from 1886. Chapter One identifies sixteen separate "Functions" (or theorems) for pedal use, followed by brief definitions of "primary" and "secondary" pedal techniques, which are now referred to respectively as "simultaneous" and "syncopated" pedal. Subsequent chapters provide in-depth commentary explaining the musical reasons for using the suggested pedal techniques, and interspersed throughout the chapters are interesting "Remarks" referencing Rubinstein's concert performance practices. Provided throughout the Guide are an abundance of musical examples excerpted from advanced repertoire, each with the pedal changes explicitly indicated. The writing style is dense and requires serious study to glean the wealth of information it has to offer. One caveat is in order: when incorporating certain suggested techniques (specifically half-pedaling), sensitivity to the acoustic improvements of the modern-day piano is critically important.

Also published as a reproduction, Teresa Carreno's guide Possibilities of Tone Color by Artistic Use of Pedals is less pedantic than is the Rubinstein Guide. Published by her student in 1919, the volume ends rather abruptly due to Carreno's sudden death in 1917. The writing style is that of a teacher explaining in illuminatingly clear detail how to first work out the subtle mechanics of pedaling, examining up to four depth levels each with a specific musical purpose, and then moving on to how to properly use the fingers and the arm to create the "correct" sound. Her dissertation on pedal use in extended chords is excellent. Also drawing from advanced repertoire, the musical-pedal examples are presented more as tools to develop listening skills and guide students to discover their own artistic approach to incorporating the pedal techniques described in each chapter. As Madame Carreno stated, "If a student does not work out the pedal effects for herself, after all I show her on the subject, she is hopeless!" Reviewed by Steven Hall, Richardson, Texas.
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Author:Hall, Steven
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:426
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