Ray Alston biography

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

A happy pianist — recent comments about Ondine

Thank you so much for your warm-hearted, generosity in making these piano practical editions freely available.

You have helped me overcome a huge mental block and achieve a lifelong desire – to play Ravel’s Ondine.

I’m a good amateur pianist and had no fear or difficulty about tackling Debussy’s Reflets dans L’Eau but I always thought Ondine was out of my league.

Your edition made me realise that trying to read the Durand edition was as great, if not greater, a barrier to learning it than the technical demands of the piece

Your helpful edition has “opened magic casements upon faery lands forlorn” and led me into a ravishing new sound world and a new level of playing that I didn’t think possible. I am very happy and very grateful. Thank you once again.