Islamey - Fantaisie orientale
Editor: Norbert Gertsch
Urtext Edition without fingering, paperbound
Pages: 33 (VI, 27), Size 23,5 x 31,0 cm
Order no. HN 793 · ISMN 979-0-2018-0793-5
Level of difficulty (Piano): difficult (Level 9)
“A wonderful piece, but very difficult – only a few will be able to master it …”. Since this pronouncement by Nicolai Rubinstein, who nonetheless premièred it with bravura, the work has unjustly been stuck with the label of “unplayable”. The wild, almost demonic character of this “oriental fantasy” has certainly contributed to this reputation: through the use of Caucasian and Armenian folk idioms Balakirev calls forth a keyboard firework that aroused the admiration even of the Titan Liszt. Our edition provides today’s pianists with a musical text that is not only reliable and accurate, but also clear and well-organised.
Die neue, mustergültige Henle-Urtextausgabe bietet erstmals eine präzise Notenvorlage im kritischen Abgleich von Autograph (1869) und den jeweils vom Komponisten revidierten Ausgaben von Rather (1902) und Jurgenson (1909). Der Anhang bringt die verschiedenen Lesarten, einschließlich der Druckfehler, und bietet somit eine verlässliche Neuorientierung für Konzertpianisten und Meisterklassenschüler.
[Neue Musikzeitung, 2006]
The superiority of the new edition is evident in the clarity of its presentation. The fact that the notes are elegantly spaced over 23 pages as opposed to the squashed and compressed 18 of the old … version says it all. Additionally, Henle provides a highly informative preface, sketching the origins of the folk material and the evolution of the piece itself.
[International Piano, 2006]
If you never reach a quarter of the metronome marking, I nevertheless urge you to pick up a copy of Henle’s unfussy edition. … The ingenuity of the writing easily matches ‘Scarbo’ … and Henle’s Norbert Gertsch certainly helps us to see much of what is important in this music.
[Piano Professional, 2005]
Les pianistes d’aujourd’hui peuvent non seulement se fier à la fidélité de l’édition Henle à l’égard de l’original, mais ils apprécieront aussi la perfection et la clarté d’agencement du texte musical.
Tot aan het einde van zijn leven bleef Balakirev aan het stuk schaven. In de nieuwe Urtext van Henle zijn al deze wijzigingen, varianten en vingerzettingen minutieus verantwoord. Bovendien zijn de door Balakirev opgetekende originele melodieën opgenomen. Wie het aandurft om dit stuk op de lessenaar te zetten, kan zich geen betere uitgave wensen.
The levels of difficulty of the
piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
The levels of difficulty of the piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
|1||easy||Bach, Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, nos. 4 and 5|
|2||Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier I, no. 1 Prelude C major|
|3||Beethoven, Piano Sonatas op. 49,1 and 2|
|4||medium||Grieg, Lyric Pieces op. 12, no. 4|
|5||Schumann, Fantasy Pieces op. 12, no. 1|
|6||Chopin, Nocturnes op. 27, nos. 1 and 2|
|7||difficult||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 10, no. 3|
|8||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 81a|
|9||Schumann, Toccata op. 7|
Guide to the levels of difficulty
"I don't know what 'difficult' means. Either you can play or you can't" – this was the rather terse comment by the great violinist Nathan Milstein, on being asked about the unbelievable difficulty of Niccolo Paganini's Caprice no. 1.
The relativity of the evaluation of difficulty in music immediately becomes clear. Yet I gladly take up this great challenge, presented to me by G. Henle Publishers. For I am aware of how useful a guide like this can be, both from my own experience as well as that of many colleagues. In particular so as to be able to identify "appropriate" works. For example for music teachers, who teach at very different levels, from beginners to those preparing for music conservatories, but also for all those interested amateurs for whom this guide is intended.
After careful deliberation I have settled on nine levels of difficulty, which I have divided into three groups: 1–3 (easy), 4–6 (medium), 7–9 (difficult). A number of parameters have been considered when assessing the level of difficulty. I have not just looked at the number of fast or slow notes to be played, or the chord sequences; of central importance are also the complexity of the piece's composition, its rhythmic complexities, the difficulty of reading the text for the first time, and last but not least, how easy or difficult it is to understand its musical structure. I have defined "piece" as being the musical unit of a sonata, or a single piece in a cycle, which is why Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" Part I comprises a total of 48 levels of difficulty (each prelude and fugue is considered separately), Schumann's Sonata in f sharp minor op.11 only has a single number. My assessment is measured by the ability to prepare a piece for performance.
While assessing the pieces, it became clear that the medium level of difficulty (4–6) is the trickiest. Now and again this means that a piece is judged as a "3/4", even if it only deserved a "3" as far as piano technique is concerned. An example of such a "borderline" case (easy/medium) is Schumann's "Scenes from Childhood" op. 15 Von fremden Ländern und Menschen or at the other end "6/7" part of Bach's "English Suites". And of course within a main category there are also "from-to" evaluations (e.g. 7/8).
Any evaluation of art or music will always be subjective, even if the aim was to be objective. Despite the fact that I have endeavoured to be as careful as possible, I am all too aware that the results of my work can be called into question, and am therefore grateful for any suggestions you might have.
Prof. Rolf Koenen © 2010