This & that.
As an easier alternative, or a preparation for this fun piece, try Perpetual Motion by Alexander Peskanov, published by Willis. Though beginning and ending in C major, the alternating hands romp through other keys in the middle and make a final dash up the keyboard to the pianissimo conclusion.
Two other easier studies are the familiar Kabalevsky Etude, Op. 27, No. 3, and No. 13 by Gedike in the first Celebration Series etude book. Both develop finger independence and speed and are fun to play.
In Part Two of Czerny-Germer Etude No. 4 features alternating hands playing fast sixteenth notes, which cover a wide range of the keyboard. Clarity, speed and changing dynamics are required, as in Solfeggietto.
Playing a four-note broken triad as in measure 13 (G, B-flat, D, G and back) with the arm moving behind each note being played, rather than stretching, is another skill required in Solfeggietto. Develop this skill in the first variation of Berkowitz' Paganini Variations. Preceding this with the theme makes a great recital piece. For a more intensive workout, see Czerny Op. 821, No. 68, which features four note broken chords in alternating hands.
--Barbara Wing, a former director of education at the Levine School of Music, has written music materials for elementary-level students, and teaches children and adults in her home studio in Bethesda, Maryland.
Students love the fast sixteenth notes, the changing C minor arpeggios, and the hand-over-hand gestures found in Solfeggietto. In looking for alternative solo pieces, I chose two of approximately the same technical requirements, also with sixteenth notes, and a tossing of the melodic line between the hands. Each requires well-trained, dexterous fingers and much practice to be played well and at a consistent pace. The "Preludio" from Suite in G Major (HWV 450) by Handel not only features similar sixteenth-note passages, it also has a bravura conclusion featuring a single-line melody in thirty-second notes covering four octaves of the keyboard that can be divided between the hands. Interpretative challenges include slurring, articulation and phrase length. The teacher can help the student decide on the phrasing gestures and articulations from day one.
Another baroque-era possibility filled with similar pedagogical elements is Les Vents en courroux (The Angry Winds) by Daquin. In executing the fast arpeggiarions divided between the hands, and energetic passagework up and down the keyboard, students will need to work on tonal clarity and rhythmic precision. In this contrapuntal piece, Daquin uses ornamentation, tonic and dominant imitation, rolled accompaniment chords, broken triads, sequences, sixteenth-note patterns divided between the hands and scalar passages that must be performed with a sense of direction.
[Note: Both of these baroque pieces are available in Anthology of Baroque Keyboard Music edited by Maurice Hinson and published by Alfred Publishing Co.]
--Gail Lew, editor-in-chief for the California Music Teacher magazine and an independent music teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, holds degrees in piano performance, music history and music education.
While Solfeggietto is an attractive piece for the budding pianist for its vigorous and dramatic effect, similar technical and musical aspects appear in other repertoire that is equally rewarding: J. S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999, is just as impressive and serves well to develop the student's awareness of harmonic tension and release (it can easily be practiced in blocks).
Schumann's "Fantasy Dance" from Albumblatter, Op. 124, No. 5, is a romantic alternative that also features a continuous flow divided between the hands and a fiery mood--here alternated with a most expressive left-hand melody accompanied by broken chords.
Two of Stephen Heller's etudes from his Opus 45 also make use of the same technique: the twirling No. 2 ("Avalanche"), in which the fast fingerwork is alternated with chord playing; and the less frequently played No. 22, a more flowing alternative.
Another romantic option by a favorite composer is Friedrich Burgmuller's Agitato, Op. 109, No. 8, a restless yet sensitive sixteenth-note etude.
The third movement from Kabalevsky's Sonatina, Op. 13, No. 1, is a brilliant and effective showpiece. In addition to alternated-hand fingerwork, it features quick right-hand scales and successive root position broken triads on both hands.
Turning to South America: Alberto Ginastera's "Prelude No. 6" (Twelve American Preludes, Fischer) makes use of alternating octaves and chords for a powerful feel. Both Octavio Pinto's "Run, run!" (Scenas Infantis, Schirmer) and Heitor Villa-Lobos's "Polichinelo" (The Baby's Family No. 1, Alfred) feature rapid alternated chords for a brilliant effect.
--Hamilton Tescarollo is assistant professor of piano and director of keyboard studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
It is important that students first master the challenges in C.P.E. Bach's Solfeggietto, Wq.117.1 (H.220): single-line melody divided between the hands, facility, agility, broken chords, scale patterns, motoric rhythms and musical line.
Dennis Alexander's Turboccata, in cut time, is a good starting point. Its left-hand rhythmic pulse and continuous right-hand eighth notes creates excitement, with dynamic swells and sharp staccato crossovers, requiring firm fingertips and a pliable wrist.
Alternatively, William Gillock's Seascape and Phantom Rider, and Seymour Bernstein's Birds 2, are dramatic pieces in the romantic and impressionistic style. Alternating hands in the Gillock, moving through different registers, help develop agility. Bernstein's The Guinea Hen, employing palms slapping the keys and The Roadrunner, with staccato sixteenth notes switching between registers in chromatic, diatonic and whole tone patterns, provide humorous appeal.
C.P.E. Bach's expressive Presto in C minor, Wq. 114/3 provides another excellent substitute. Replete with varied repetitions of broken chord patterns, it features moving eighth notes alternating between the hands.
Aram Khachaturian's energetic, moto-perpetuo Etude (Ivan is Busy), indicated 'marcato', requires rhythmic and tonal control, especially in the left-hand eighth notes.
On a more lyrical note, Stephen Heller's Study in B Minor, 0p.46, No. 11, and Friedrich Burgmiiller's The Swallow, Op. 100, No. 24, feature layers of sound, the melodic line accompanied by a flowing broken chord accompaniment divided between the hands, blended by the use of the damper pedal.
Each of these wonderful compositions provides a viable alternative to the ever-popular Solfeggietto. Enjoy!
--Grace McFarlane, Eastern Division director-elect, serves on the faculty of the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C., and maintains a private piano studio, teaching students of all ages and levels.
C.P.E. Bach's Solfeggietto serves as a training work for piano students at the intermediate level to develop basic technical skills. Motifs built on arpeggios and scales constitute the backbone of the work. Here the construction seems to imply the use of alternating hands, a fundamental step in the development of sound evenness. The main characteristic of the work, an almost endless continuous line, allows a great degree of freedom in choosing the appropriate hand, and consequently a fingering. To the extreme, a transcription exists for the left hand only by Albert Ross Parsons. Similarly, performing the whole work with the right hand would be possible, in consideration of its limited range from F2 to E6.
Alternatives exist to this over-performed composition. John Cage's rarely heard Dream should be considered. Written in 1948, Dream builds on short three- to six-note motifs presented on a single staff and in alto clef. Length is comparable. Whereas Bach's comprises 35 measures written in 16 notes, Cage's spreads over 94, but written in eight notes. Just like in Solfeggietto, writing is virtually monothematic with sporadic chords, allowing for performance with alternate hands within minimal extension: from D2 to C5. How to allocate passages to each hand rests solely in the performer: Cage did not specify. Not only will students build similar skills. They will also be able to sustain sounds with a broadly prescribed pedal, something perceived as a necessity in some of Bach's passages.
--Giuseppe Lupis, pianist, composer and assistant professor, Grand Valley State University, enjoys more than 20years of experience in the musical field, and aims at restoring the prominence piano enjoyed in the 19th century.
Solfeggietto, Wq. 117.1 (H.220) by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) is widely popular among teachers and students alike--and with good reason. It is beautiful to listen to, fun to play and it has an abundance of pedagogical advantages. The broken chord and scale passages offer a musical-artistic context to technical issues that otherwise seem uninspiring. Characterized by perpetual motion sixteenth notes that are divided between the hands, the piece requires--and helps to further develop--finger dexterity, even tone and fingerwork, seamless transfer between the hands, and careful shaping of the long, dynamic melodic line, which is replete with rises and falls. But the work's popularity could be a drawback to teachers who may tire of it or who may prefer different repertoire for different students.
I asked five teachers to suggest alternative pieces that offer similar challenges and benefits. The suggestions, ranging from etudes to recital pieces and from baroque to 20th-century repertoire, offer readers a wide range of alternatives to Solfeggietto.
--Immanuela Gruenberg, a member of the AMT Editorial Committee, holds a DMA degree from the Manhattan School, taught college and pre-college students and maintains a private studio in Potomac, Maryland.
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|Title Annotation:||Professional Resources|
|Publication:||American Music Teacher|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2013|
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