Dmitri Kabalevsky: A Sad Story from 24 Pieces for Children, Op. 39

Despite its brevity, this somber, pensive solo expresses sadness very beautifully and in an understated way. It is therefore an excellent piece for the novice pianist to learn patient and expressive playing in the piano to pianissimo dynamic range. At the beginning, the left hand carries the main melody while the right hand provides the embellishment. Nonetheless, the right-hand part is truly another melody that eventually joins in as a duet beginning at m. 8, and so it, too, plays an important role in creating the expressive mood of the piece. The left hand in mm. 1–8 and mm. 17–24 must be played with an unhurried, smooth legato touch, while the right hand’s two-note slurs add a kind of gentle, plaintive sigh. A slight lift on the last note of each slur in the right hand—one that also does not cheat the full value of the dotted half-note—will enhance the delicate quality of this haunting solo. In mm. 9–14 the parallel two-note slurs in both hands also should be played without cheating the full value of the half notes. A somewhat reluctant lift of the hand is called for here, as if the fingers were almost stuck to the keys.

–Margaret Otwell

Frédéric Chopin: Prelude in A Major, Op. 28, No. 7
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Dello Joio: Mountain Melody from Suite for the Young (Upper Elementary)
Richard Walters