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The Heart of the Concerto.

The Heart of the Concerto, by Kenon D. Renfrow. Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. (16320 Roscoe Blvd., P.O. Box 10003, Van Nuys, CA 91410-0003), 2001. 32 pp., $6.95. Optional accompaniment on General MIDI disk. Intermediate to late intermediate.

The Heart of the Concerto, as the name implies, is a collection of nine arrangements of concerto favorites by Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Schumann and Tchaikovsky. Kenon Renfrow has framed the main or most-loved theme in each concerto with a mood-setting introduction, often reduced from the orchestral tutti. The limited menu of three classical and three romantic concerti composers is nonetheless a representative sampling of the rich repertoire. Most students will never advance to the level of the original version of these masterpieces, and even fewer will have opportunities to perform with live orchestra. Thus, the heart of the concerto is a nice compromise to whet the appetite of aspiring pianists. The accompanying General MIDI disk (a separate option) functions as a surrogate orchestra, simulating the concerto experience.

All arrangements are in their original key except for the Tchaikovsky First. B-flat minor gave way to D minor, which is a bit bright for my taste. The most successful "heart of the concerto" is the Mozart K. 467, and I'm betting this is a favorite. It sounds the most authentic, both in the score and on the disk. The integrity of the rhythm is intact. It also is the only slow movement--even though the Rachmaninoff themes are more leisurely paced, they are both part of fast outer movements.

Both the G major and D major Haydn concertos are a representative sampling of this underrated composer. The "Presto" third movement of the G major is charming, fun to play and sounds close to the original. The opening cascade of chords in the Schumann concerto, so treacherous to play, does not lend itself well to simplifying. Most of us are so used to the full-voiced chords, it is actually tricky to play the thirds and fourths in the right hand and single notes in the left.

Students should be highly motivated to play through the popular themes from the first and third movements of Rachmaninoff's adored second piano concerto. When a student opens a big thick concerto album for the first time, it looks so long and hard, so far off as a musical milestone. The Heart of the Concerto's clever title, the selections and the tasteful arrangements look inviting on the page. This book should be a favorite among students and teachers. Reviewed by Suzanne W. Guy, Norfolk, Virginia.
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Author:Guy, Suzanne W.
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:426
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