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Czerny Op 299 #35, 2 Versions

The specific technical task here is initiating broken octaves from the upper note. That’s valuable training for strengthening RH 4-5 as well as for playing RH octaves with 1-4 on black keys (which will give your unison ovtaves much more speed and fluency than if you play them only with 1-5). There’s also a considerable workout for the LH starting at m 16.

For a while I diligently practiced #35’s notes as Czerny wrote them, and eventually I could execute the piece in class at a tempo respectably near (dotted quarter @90) to Czerny’s (dotted quarter @108). But now and then in class when a quicker tempo was called for I’d play the RH broken octaves as simple unbroken octave eighths and ignore the LH broken octaves, and I came to like the piece very much, and not just because it was so much easier to play.

This is something you quickly learn about Czerny The Composer and Czerny The Mad Scientist of Technique. As Composer he invests all his Op 299 studies with at least a little good music—often more than a little. And as Mad Scientist he outfits that good music in straight jackets of notes whose sole purpose is mechanism and speed. I stopped playing #35 as an exercise in broken octaves. I finally felt that the technical challenge actually undercuts the charm of the piece, giving it a dense tinkling noteyness that becomes grating. Not unexpectedly I was able to play it faster and faster, beyond Czerny’s metronome marking, and discovered that it’s an excellent little Petit Allergo. And that’s the larger point: Czerny is an excellent composer, and if you remove the technical challenges from his studies what you’re often left with is an excellent piece of music.

In addition to facilitations, there are various shortcuts you can take to get #35 quickly into your repertory. Once you unlock the enjambment of mm 7-8 the binary structure resolves into one 16-bar and four 8-bar episodes of contrasting textures. This makes it easy to rearrange, using only the simpler material to fashion a finished piece for class.

Czerny Op 299 #35, 1st Version: quick skipping 6/8, 16 sets of 8

This is my performance of an arrangement of #35 that uses only half of Czerny’s material. Even so, it’s a substantial piece, and I supply a score where you can see my cuts and repeats and other strategies for avoiding Czerny’s great technical challenges while preserving the music’s attractiveness.

There are many ways to manipulate the material of #35 into new rhythms. With 6/8’s a useful recipe for transformation is to renotate the music in 3/4, rebarring the two triplet eighths as three doublet eighths and creating a LH accompaniment to make the rhythm clear. What I find interesting and challenging about this operation is that typically the 6/8 melodic line will go against the grain of 3/4, giving the music an off-kilterness that the accompaniment has to manage and control.

Czerny Op 299 #35, 2nd Version: mazurka, 8 sets of 8

This is my performance of a shortcut arrangement of #35 (mm 1-23) renotated in 3/4 and recast as a mazurka. I supply a score.

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