Words and Music with Lucy Parham and Friends

British concert pianist Lucy Parham came to prominence when she won the piano final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1984, and  has since played with many of the world’s finest orchestras and conductors. More recently, she has become synonymous with performances of Words and Music. Lucy teams up with eminent actors, and themes her  concerts; each one delves into the lives (and often the loves too) of celebrated composers, such as Chopin, Liszt, Schumann and Debussy.

Piano music combined with narration is indeed a popular concept, and Lucy has just released a couple of videos showcasing her work. You can enjoy them both by clicking on the links below:

If you would like to soak up the atmosphere and hear Lucy in person, here are a couple of forthcoming events:

Odyssey of Love (which focuses on Liszt and his women) will be performed on the 16th January at the Salisbury Playhouseand Lucy is joined by Joanna David and Martin Jarvis,  and also on the 17th January at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, where Harriet Walter and Henry Goodman will feature.

I interviewed Lucy as part of my Classical Conversations Series; she was one of my first guests:

www.lucyparham.com


My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.

You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.


The Magic Link – a book review

It’s always a pleasure reading or playing through new piano music publications, whether they be sheet music or text books, but The Magic Link is a piano book that encompasses both genres. Russian pianist and educator, Rada Bukhman has designed a piano tutor with a twist, thus creating a completely different way to set about learning or assimilating classical piano music.

Rada began her career as a pianist at the age of nine when she performed with the Omsk Symphony Orchestra, and has since devoted herself to teaching in her adopted home of Canada. She has written several books about piano playing, focusing largely on her alma mater, the Russian School.

The Magic Link was written ostensibly for children; it contains the scores of Pyotr  Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Children’s Album Op. 39 (all 24 pieces) and Robert Schumann’s Album for the Young Op. 68 (18 selected pieces). These are important works for young pianists to tackle and they provide a varied foray into the Romantic repertoire. This book, however, affords far more than merely ‘notes on the page’; each piece is preceded, and in many cases succeeded too, by written conversations between a piano teacher and a few students. It has the effect of ‘eaves dropping’ on a class lesson, the teacher gently encouraging pupils to explore many diverse technical and musical issues in each work.

A plethora of different topics are discussed, from Folk Tunes and Wooden Horses to An Italian Journey and Fairy Tales. At each point an appropriate work is presented often appearing with excerpts of orchestral or other genre works too, illustrating where each composer drew his inspiration. The piano teacher cleverly guides the young pupils through the pieces, pointing out various features from dynamic and stylistic markings, key signatures, and chord progressions, to different moods, character and how to make the piano ‘sing’, rather like a musical analysis. The teacher also proffers various stories regarding the lives of Tchaikovsky and Schumann giving tidbits of daily life which brings the whole experience to life.

There is much information to grasp and a child might take some time to digest it fully, but with the help of a skilled teacher or parent, they will no doubt enjoy this musical adventure. Each piece is complimented with a colourful drawing, many sketched by children and some by Rada herself. One of the more interesting elements in this publication is the way particular musical styles are highlighted. From chorales and contrapuntal compositions to waltzes, polkas and Russian folk dances, young players receive an excellent introduction to various musical forms which is most helpful and instructive.

This book will be a welcome addition to a piano library and a useful resource for any music teacher or parent who wishes to gain an insight into classical piano music therefore enabling them to help their children learn productively. The pieces are generally intermediate level, although beginners will certainly appreciate the stories, drawings and musical information offered throughout this volume.

You can find out more information and purchase The Magic Link here.


My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.

You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.