Ravel Ma Mère l’Oye

Many thanks for all the useful feedback; I have recently revisited my 2019 revision of Ravel’s Mother Goose, making significant corrections and improving the layout. This fascinating exploration resulted inevitably to a new two-hand arrangement, which I believe will make an exceptional addition to the composer’s solo repertoire. There is extensive use of the sostenuto pedal and glissandos can be found in a wide range of dynamics. Le Jardin Féerique is an excellent study for the magical timing of arpeggiated chords. My favourite is no doubt Les Entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête, an eloquent waltz with unusual phrase lengths, indicated with dashed barlines; it also features a ravishing and pertinent coupling of the two themes. 

Ravel often preferred the company of the young to that of adults and said : “Writing music to describe the poetry of childhood encouraged me to simplify my style and to refine my means of expression”. The contrast between Ma Mère l’Oye and Gaspard de la Nuit, from the same year 1908, is staggering, yet the fundamentals — melodic design, exquisite harmony and the evocation of enchantment — is evident in the two works.

Ravel — Daphnis et Chloé

l’Aventure de Pan et de Syrinx

I must thank a kind Ravelian sleuth for having discovered a small number of errors; a serious revision of the composer’s transcription published today includes the corrections.

I must admit that the piece sounds more complete with Ravel’s extraordinary orchestral palette, but it is nevertheless pianistically challenging and gratifying, with echoes of Valses NoblesOndine and Jeux d’Eau. In under 7 minutes of gorgeous music, there is some bitonality and 24 changes of key, and who cannot be seduced by Pan’s exquisite flute solo? 

Schumann Three Preludes in Counterpoint

a transcription for solo piano by Ray Alston

Nº 2 mit innigem ausdruck A minor page 1

Nº 5 nicht zu schnell B minor page 7

Nº 4 Innig A flat page 13

These are taken from Six Studies in Canonic Form Op 56, whose unfortunate academic title hides music of great beauty and originality. In an effort to publicise their worth they have been sexily renamed Preludes in Counterpoint. I have transcribed three personal favourites for solo piano — the two outer pieces, both lyrical and romantic, frame a mischievous staccato canon in the style of Mendelssohn.  

Schumann Humoreske Op 20

As you probably know, there is an early short section where a third stave shows an innerer stimme, an inner voice not to be played, just heard in the mind. However Richter, competing in Formula 1, does play the secret melody, and this version is included — it works rather well, methinks.

Debussy Preludes book 2 Nº 7

A reliable source has provided additional editing information; a new revised version of this divine prelude has been uploaded today.

Moments of exaltation evoke a distant land, shrouded in legend, saturated with exotic overtones — a subtly elusive and ethereal scene requiring great sensitivity. 

Schumann Phantasie in C — Op 17

You can now download the result of months of enjoyable revision of this extraordinary work. I have included two preparatory studies for the second movement, including the notorious coda, and Schumann’s original discarded coda to the third movement.
Does anyone have an opinion with reference to the following conundrum in the second movement?

Measures 1 to 5 —  given that the LH arpeggiated chord of 6 is clearly to start before the beat, logically these five bars should start on the beat. I have found no reference to the problem anywhere.

Please use the contact link to send your observations.

Scriabin Sonata Nº 4 Op 30 revision

My thanks to a reader based in Germany who has just spotted errors in Scriabin’s fourth sonata, Op 30. He also added the following comments :

Recently I have discovered your magnificent edition which in combination with the available urtext editions provide an interesting insight to the score. I find it very helpful that when possible, the rests are omitted and notations are changed to make the score easier to read. The tiny modifications which do not change the music are also helpful for some pianists, for example those who have small hands. As you have nicely said, your edition is a good companion to the urtext editions.

A revised version is now available. 

Schumann’s ‘year of song’ 1840

PPE is delighted to announce six new solo piano transcriptions by Ray Alston, ideal for students and aficionados above grade 8. Adelbert von Chamisso’s 1830 cycle of poems Frauenliebe und Leben — A Woman’s Love and Life — expresses sentiments totally out of step with the concept of women’s liberation, but the music is absolutely gorgeous.

Op 25/3 Der Nussbaum page 3

Op 39/1 In der Fremde page 9

Op 39/8 In der Fremde page 16

Op 42/4 Du Ring an meinem Finger page 20

Op 42/5 Helft mir, ihr Schwestern page 25

Op 57    Belsatzar page 30

My purpose was to discover the essence of this irresistible music, at the same time creating a pianistic challenge and an addition to the recital repertoire. I have faithfully kept to the original melodic lines and harmonies with some artistic licence, filling the gap between Clara’s straightforward arrangements and the more flamboyant versions of Liszt and Godowsky.  Ray Alston August 2021

Rachmaninov Preludes Op 23 Nº 1 and Op 32 Nº 12

Following error reports by another eagle-eyed researcher in Holland the Preludes Op 23 Nº 1 and Op 32 Nº 12 have had misprints corrected. PPE is indebted to its readers for error reports and comments.

Here is pertinent quote from the said researcher/pianist : “When I encountered Rachmaninov’s original version of Prelude 23/1 F# minor, I saw in bar 34 the right hand under the left, which is absolutely unnecessary, and I was glad to see you inverted this extremely unpractical way of playing. Such places make your new editions valuable.”