Joachim Andersen. 24 Studies. Opus 15.
I heard Moyse teach almost all of these studies and also played a few at his classes. His comments were usually the same, even after many years. My pianist friend, Robert Scott made a piano accompaniment for them and commented when he had finished it, “These are beautifully constructed and are easily as good as the Chopin Studies for piano”, a comment similar to one Paul Taffanel also made some 100 years earlier. The helpful piano part is available at https://scorevivo.com/product/andersen-24-studies-opus-15/ The piano accompaniment helps with the understanding of the harmony and the rhythm. The mood words Andersen used are interestingly unusual.
Helpful Musical Examples of some studies can be found by clicking here
No.1 Con gusto: with taste (not with gusts or guts!) Almost everyone plays this study with the wrong time signature. It is 3/4 not 6/8. Andersen wrote it is this way, perhaps as a trap, but to oblige us to accentuate and hold certain notes to establish in the ear of the listener, that it is in 3/4. He deliberately wrote it so that the highest note would be the second beat, as if it were in 6/8. Almost everyone falls into this trap as illustrated at D below.
So what is the form? Its easy: the first note of each bar is C; the note on the second beat is E and so is the third beat an E. It’s the same in the second, third and fourth bars! 4 bars of C-E-E! It is most definitely in 3/4. But let us give Andersen a little musicality…to play C-E-E for 4 bars is rather moronic. When a composer writes the same note twice on consecutive beats, the implication is a double length note. So, the form is as in the Musical Example at A. (see above)
First practice as at B in the Examples. Play 12 or so bars in this way. Before going on to C, play that rhythm on the piano: for 12 bars or so with the correct chords. It helps give a feeling for both melody and harmony. “The breathing is difficult, so we are obliged to make a break” Finally, practice C in the Examples. The form changes later, of course.
No.2. Con Grandezza: Majestically. Andersen invariably writes difficulties to help us practice overcoming them. Tonguing middle E, obtaining a clear note is not easy. Most of this is in 2 bar phrases: the tune is in the lower notes as shown in the Examples at no. 2. Andersen writes almost no expression marks: but it needs phrasing in the natural way.
No.3. Con Garbo: Gracefully; elegantly. Several Studies have an underlying tune. Moyse: “Don’t rush into this one, or you will understand too quickly – and understand nothing”! What follows is the easiest and most helpful way to start learning this study. It’s a variation on a tune, so the first approach is, ‘What is the tune’? Simple. Its, ‘I love You’ - ‘Yes, I love you’ as at A in the Examples There is a rest after ’you’ on the first beat of the next bar. Practice the tune first making sure you understand that the first note is the pickup, not short, but leading; then stress the first beat of the bar and play the E, the 3rd beat softly. It is an appoggiatura. The D on the first beat of the second complete bar is part of the previous slur and is pp. The next two notes, F# and G, lead forward (yes, I) to the B (love). This continues until the 7th line (E minor) where the piece changes with development etc…
On page 2, in the 3rd line, the second bar of the chromatic scale, the 4th note is A#. (I have heard commercial recordings with an A natural…) How to practice it?. Do it in 4 ways, which will lead to a good performance and a true understanding of the piece; Practice the first 16 bars by playing the tune only. Then add the first 3 notes only, the pickup as at B in Examples. After a few days, start again playing the tune adding only the 2 beats of ‘love’ as at C.
Finally, join B) and C) together. It is not worth practising adding only the 3rd beat and the first of the next bar. It sounds silly. Now play all the notes being sure to play crescendos and diminuendos to express the melody.
Around 1903, Andersen visited the Paris Conservatoire and went to hear Paul Taffanel’s class. Taffanel asked Andersen if he would allow him to play his Study No.3. Afterwards, Andersen said, “I never realised I had written such beautiful music!”
No.4. Afflito: Melancholy: sad. Piano and staccato, being sure that the upper notes are softer than the lower notes. A slur is a diminuendo. The lower notes of the ‘tune’ should be clearly heard: the upper notes are very short and quiet.
No.5. Con alterezza: with pride or loftiness. D major was a common key in earlier times as the baroque flute’s natural scale is D or G major. This study is about fluency and evenness in this key, paying attention to any sharp C#s.
No.6. Barocco: eccentric or strange. I saw two music history books from the late 19th centuries which stated that the harpsichord is an obsolete instrument but common in the 17th and 18th centuries. Barocco is from a Greek word meaning, ‘strange, bizarre or unusual’. Baroque music in Andersen’s time was thought to be eccentric and peculiar, hence this curious mixture of pseudo baroque with the romantic middle section. All the same, it is a good study for discipline, playing exactly what is written. Notice the turns are staccato as are the mordents; both will be played short at high speed! 9th line: all change! Here is a lovely romantic tune but…practice the tune first. It is shown at 6 in Examples. Hold the first note of the trill, as pianists often do before trilling. The later development section is an odd mixture of both periods.
No.7. Con dolcezza: sweetly and softly. A major…C#s!...these are usually sharp… Play evenly with a singing tone. Observe the nuances.
No.8. Con agitazione; with agitation. Don’t shorten the third note. Practice the tune first as Examples at No. 8.
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