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Kabalevsky: Op. 27, no. 29: Cavalry Gallop

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 29 Cavalry Gallop
There are a couple of reasons why this piece is very important to study. Firstly, you have a melody in the left hand that must not be overshadowed by an accompaniment in the right hand. Secondly, from measure 26 from 42, there’s a tricky mix of (sometimes) legato melody riding above a bed of staccato harmony in both hands. Kabalevsky does a wonderful job of evoking the sound of pounding horse hooves throughout this exciting work.

Kabalevsky: Op. 27, no. 28: Caprice

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 28 Caprice
As we learned in no. 9: A Little Fable and no. 21: The Chase, one of Kabalevsky’s favorite building blocks is parallel octaves. In Caprice, once again we’re offered a piece constructed entirely of octaves split betwen the two hands. However, the sustained notes in this piece make for a much more interesting architecture. It also means that you have to be careful about what fingerings you choose.

Kabalevsky: Op. 27, no. 27: Dance

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 27 Dance
Anyone for staccato thirds? Once again Kabalevsky comes through with a real charmer of a piece. It seems to me that the dance of the title is actually going on between the two hands. Pay extra attention to the left hand starting in measure 24. It’s easy to play by itself, but when you add the right hand things can get dicey pretty fast.

Kabalevksy: Op. 27, no. 26: Etude in A Major

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 26 Etude in A Major
With their dual hand triplets, this etude has a similar feel to no. 24 in F major. Things get really interesting beginning in measure 35 through the return of the first theme, as the bass continuously drops away while the entire structure rises higher and higher. When I play this piece I can’t help thinking of the music of Philip Glass.

Kabalevsky: Op. 27, no. 25: Novelette

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 25 Novelette
Seductive, with more than a hint of menace, this piece has an undeniable cinematic character. Hold back until the big crescendo, beginning in measure 30, which cumlinates in the climactic release of measure 38. Everything that follows is denouement, winding down in tempo and volume.

Kabalevsky: Op. 27, no. 24: Etude in F Major

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 24 Etude in F Major
A great, showy piece, it’s exciting to play the arpeggios against the step-wise melodies as they jump between the hands. In the middle unison section, I find it helpful to play both octave quarter notes on count 4 with my right hand to allow my left hand an extra moment to get settled in its new position.

Kabalevsky: Op. 27, no. 24: Snow Storm

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 23 Snow Storm
I had my eye on this piece even before I started this project. I knew that it would be challenging to memorize. Also, I really have to concentrate to keep it together; I find that rhythm between the hands tricky! For the left hand I didn’t try to change the fingering as shown in my edition – I used 3,2,1 for each sequence. For the right fingering, I used a combination of 4,1 and 3,1.

Kabalevsky: Op. 27, no. 22: A Tale

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 22 A Tale
Shirley calls this piece ‘the Cirque du Soleil one’, which I think makes a lot of sense. Both share a mysterious, dream-like quality. If you’re wondering what I’m doing at the very end – I wasn’t happy with the volume of the ppp low F sharp, so I started experimenting and came up with something new. I’m pressing the key down most of the way with my left hand, and then playing it with my right hand, which results in a very quiet note if done correctly. I got a kick out of my ‘getting psyched’ moment at the beginning, so I left it in.

Kabalevsky: Op. 27, no. 21: The Chase

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 21 The Chase
The Chase is a kind of companion piece to no. 9, A Little Fable. Both exploit the device of parallel octaves in very creative and challenging ways. With this fun, quirky melody, Kabalevsky’s guess-the-next-note style is on prominent display. It’s tricky to keep the hands in sync, but, of course, that’s the point!

Kabalevsky: Op. 27, no. 20: A Short Story

Kabalevsky Op. 27 no. 20 A Short Story
My personal favorite, this piece is also known as Fairy Tale. The way that Kabalevsky uses the simplest of melodies against the descending figure in the bass leads to beautiful, striking dissonances as the two lines clash and slide against one another. It’s surprisingly challenging to consistently start the left hand four note patterns with the highest note!

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Piano lessons are taught in my San Jose home, conveniently located near Willow Glen, Almaden, Evergreen, Santa Teresa, Campbell and Morgan Hill.

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