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Czerny Op 299 #10, 3 Versions

I was surprised that a study so challenging would appear in Book 1 (even though at the end). Czerny’s LH alberti figure often encompasses an octave and sometimes a 10th, and is enriched with inner voices creating constant harmonic movement and melodic motifs to be played with the 4th and 5th fingers in counterpoint to the RH melody. All this requires considerable independance of the fingers and careful control of fatigue. But this is another LH study worth the work of getting it into your repertory. It is (to my ears) one of the few studies in Op 299 that can readily be projected as an adagio (#27 is another). In fact (again to my ears), #10 actually gains in musical value when slowed to a typical ballet class 6/8 adagio tempo (the 8th @100), which means that you can get a lot of use out of it playing it considerably under Czerny’s tempo. And it’s great training for the LH. The irregular phrasing in the first half requires squaring off if you want to use it for ballet class.

While the musical value of the material is modest, Czerny’s complex structure gives #10 interest and attractiveness. I analyse the piece as a Song Without Words with an introduction, four contrasting themes, a cadenza, and a coda:

mm 1: introduction

mm 2-8: 1st theme which enjambs with the 2nd theme

mm 9-12: 2nd theme

mm 13-16: a contrasting 3rd theme. It’s in the key of the dominant and its line rises, contrasting with the 1st theme’s falling line. Its dynamic is more staccatto and it introduces more multi-voice texture.

mm 17-20: a cadenza pedal point on the dominant leading back to the home key

mm 21-24: a closing theme in which the LH triadic 16th-note motif is answered by the RH 8th-note stepwise motif

mm 25-30: a leisurely coda

For a few years I played this study as an adagio (the 8th @ 90-100), and then as I got more control and speed I used it for quicker 3/4’s (like ronds de jamb en l’air). I’ve gone back to using it as an adage: at a slower tempo the tunes can be lightly decorated for a bel canto effect, and the LH counter melodies can be more easily highlighted. But even as an adagio it’s a workout for the LH, and playing it in class has taught me to relax my wrist and forearm as fatigue begins to set in.

Op 299 #10,1st Version: 6/8 Adagio, 8 sets of 8

This is my performance of #10 squared off and projected as an adagio. I provide a score in which it will be seen that I use only Czerny’s mm 2-20 with a repeat of the first theme to round off the piece.

Like #7, #10 is a compositional type: RH melody with LH accompaniment. But #10 is much more complex, with the LH accompaniment itself contributing melodic material. As I worked on this study I realized that the LH could stand alone as an adagio.

Op 299 #10, 2nd Version: 6/8 Adagio for LH alone, 8 sets of 8

This is my performance with LH alone of the bass staff of my 1st Version, projecting the 4th-5th finger material as a legato song under a soft dry harmony of upper notes. It’s not the most supportive music for class but can work when something unobtrusive or meditative is wanted. As you get control over the material you can project different inner voices, and it’s well to play some of the repeated sections an octave up so as to get relief from the lower-to-middle keyboard tessitura. It can be very taxing if you allow yourself to tense up as fatigue begins to set in, and I doubt many non-musicians in the class will appreciate your work playing it, but I’ve found it fascinating for private practice and experiment.

Op 299 #10, 3rd Version: 6/8 Adagio for piano duet, 8 sets of 8

This is my arrangement of Czerny’s study as a piano duet, realized with DAW software.

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