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.”

Glissando

a technique acquired many years ago from Russian and Greek pianists

  • with either hand, keeping it relatively firm (clenched), place four well-rounded fingers with all four nails evenly touching the white keys
  • run either hand up and down the keyboard over 2 or 3 octaves silently
  • repeat this noiseless glissando, depressing the lowest (ascending) or highest (descending) notes thus achieving a painless pianissimo glissando
  • the deeper the depression the greater the dynamic
  • this can also work with the black keys
  • and at any tempo
  • some situations improve by performing the first and/or last glissando notes with the other hand

Press Release

Press release

  • Ravel : a new practical rehearsal edition of the the complete piano works
  • Available for free download at the PPE website

PianoPracticalEditions.com announces the entire piano works of Ravel in an original and thought-provoking release, now complete with the final work, a virtuoso adaptation of La Valse. The 13 volumes are available for free download at the website.

France, Centre Val de Loire, May 2019

Since October 2017  pianopracticaleditions.com has published free scores for the study and rehearsal of Ravel’s complete keyboard works. The project launched in London over 20 years ago, has finally come to fruition with the final piece on the list — La Valse.

Pianists and musicians can now enjoy a new, evaluative edition of this great composer’s œuvre, completely revamped with thought-provoking and updated layout; using the latest digital music notation technology, PPE audaciously offers radical solutions to the challenging pianistic problems posed by these great works.

  • using different size noteheads
  • hand disposition redistributed to make passages easier to perform, or more persuasive
  • some modification of both key and time signatures
  • suggestions for sostenuto pedal use
  • more space for staves and taking notes
  • maximum attention for the positioning of page turns
  • set out by a professional pianist

It was observed that many major piano work editions need a thorough reappraisal and that pianists and teachers might appreciate a fresh look at the layout together with some pertinent ways to solve musical and technical problems. Designed to work in conjunction with traditional scores, PPE was created by Ray Alston to promote practical and innovative rehearsal texts of challenging piano music, the very antithesis of urtext, expressing ideas which have been developed over a number of years. They try to eliminate textual inaccuracies, with new reasoning in the presentation of printed music for advanced pianists; often radical and controversial, they might also have been called Piano Interpretive Editions in that they are unlike the traditional texts to which we are used. They are free to download and work well with tablets.

Inevitably, by including tricks of the trade, there will be some minor “alterations” of the score, the adding or elimination of an octave, a slight tweaking of the accompaniment, using the pedals in novel ways — craft secrets in recreating music from the “dots”. Important changes of notation and spelling have been inserted, always rigorously adhering to the spirit of the composer’s original intentions. 

The Franco-Polish pianist, Vlado Perlemuter and his assistant, Marcelle Heuclin taught Ray to be innovative in the use of fingering and hand disposition to better serve the music. At the Paris Conservatoire these distinguished pedagogues were in a constant quest for intelligent fingering and this was one of the most fascinating and practical aspects of their teaching. Searching for the best finger and hand distribution was not only to facilitate the performance of a technically difficult passage but to underline the musical shape of a phrase, or to produce a more effective sound, and Ray is always grateful to have studied with them for their original and pianistic wisdom.

Although the sostenuto pedal had been patented by Steinway as early as 1874, it was only available on grand pianos and the most expensive uprights, and the editor suspects that publishers and composers of the time were loth to exclude music-buying patrons, use of this rare device possibly dissuading them from buying the score. However, in conjunction with the sustaining pedal it can be used with great orchestral effect as so much of the music of Ravel and the “impressionists” demands a bass “pedal point”.

If these new editions of Ravel’s sublime piano music can provide a valid source of inspiration for musicians, PianoPracticalEditions will have fulfilled a lifetime’s dedication to his music.

PianoPracticalEditions.com was created in 2017 with new thinking in the presentation of printed music for advanced pianists.

Contact : ray.alston@me.com