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shoeswebStories, Images, and Magic from the Piano Literature

Neil Rutman

From Bach to Scarlatti, to Beethoven, to Schubert, to Granados, to Prokofiev, these 190 pages will inspire pianists of all levels to go beyond the notes in a score. Chapters 2-17 feature a single composer each and includes stories, excerpts from letters, artwork, and history. Chapter 18 is devoted to shorter sections on works by 19 different composers.

I took a seminar with Jan Swafford and was pleased to see the story of Kalbeck finding Brahms weeping over what would become Op. 116 and 117 (Kalbeck thought at first that Brahms must have gotten a dog.) The story of Schumann finding the story of Hero and Leander revealed in In Der Nacht from Fantasiestücke after it was already written made me happy. So much for whether a connection is made before or after a work is written!

Mr. Rutman intended this volume to be a catalyst for ideas and pianistic nuances. I think he has definitely achieved his goal. And, it is a great read to boot! Please note that the illustrations are in color only in the hardback edition. Here’s a link to a YouTube video about the book.

Pianism

Aiko Onishi

Neil Rutman calls Aiko Onishi the driving force behind his new book (above). I remember hearing her play Debussy’s Fireworks when I was a student at San Jose State and being absolutely transported. I truly have never heard another performance like it in my life. The colors and the timing were extraordinary.

In 120 pages, she discusses everything from the action and how it impacts sound, to basic and advanced pedaling, to beginning a new piece. Pianists and teachers will find this book very useful. It is always good to have many ways to explain and illustrate what we do at the piano to create sound and color.

Piano Technique Demystified

Neil Stannard

The subtitle to this book is Insights Into Problem Solving and these 128 pages definitely deliver. When you open the book you are greeted by the statement, “Unlike life, playing the piano is easy and doesn’t hurt.” Here you will find myth busting, practical advice, and boosts of encouragement.

There is a lot in this volume from grouping notes, to performance anxiety, to legato, to peer pressure, to chamber music. to keyboard geography. I love that it is written in a friendly, inspiring way. Each time you pick up this book you will find something new to ponder.

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