Years ago, I gave a lecture recital at the GFA on the subject of 20th century études. I've always felt playing studies was an important part of a student's regular routine, given that the point is to work on a technical challenge in a musical context--something quite different from playing repetitive excercises to a metronome (also useful, of course).
I presented studies by Brouwer, Gnattali, Mignone, Garcia, Fampas, Kleynjans and Gilardino. I found the Gilardino particularly interesting and fun to play. And there is an enormous pile of them! Angelo Gilardino published 60 (yes, sixty) between 1981 and 1988, in volumes of twelve each, the "Studi di Virtuosità e di Trascendenza." (They were beautifully recorded by Cristiano Porqueddu.).
I decided this year to better and more consistently expose my students to this important literature (20th c. ètudes) and so we have embarked on a multi-year project in which each semester will be dedicated to the studies of a specific composer. This idea was presented to me first by my good friend Jesper Sivabaek, who is doing extraordinary work with his students at the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen. He has been following a program like this to great effect: the students each play some of the material, but, collectively, they hear a substantial amount of it and so all end up well-acquainted with the repertoire.
I asked my students to treat each study as a true concert piece- to not only master the technical challenges, which for some are considerable, but to treat the pieces as true works of art and look for the poetry, the colors, the expressive content in them as well. The performance that resulted, while given informally only, in class, was brilliant.
We focused mostly on volume two of the works, my personal favorite. The works that got played were:
Studio n. 14 - Mediterranea (omaggio a Sir William Walton), by Jacob Blizard.
Studio n. 18 - Rosario (Omaggio a Manuel de Falla), by Philip Lutz.
Studio n. 20 - Berceuse (Omaggio a Gabriel Faure), by Rebecca Klein
Studio n. 22 (Omaggio a
Alexandr Skrijabin), by Max Lyman
Studio n. 23 - Noche Oscura (Omaggio a San Juan de la Cruz), by Daniel
Studio n. 1 - Capriccio sopra la lontananza (Omaggio a Mario Castelnuovo
Tedesco), by Leonard Renallo
Studio n. 15 - Canto di Primavera (Omaggio a Igor Stravinskij), by Sarah
Also, Crispin Swank studied Studio n. 17 - Alleluia (Omaggio a Giuseppe
Rosetta), and Zhuoru Lin studied Studio n. 16 - Sacrificio (Omaggio a Agustin
Many thanks to Angelo Gilardino for this important
body of pedagogically-oriented concert works. We look forward next semester to
dedicating a similar energy to the concert studies of Heitor Villa Lobos.