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Czerny Op 335 #15, 2 versions

In a collection full of interesting “character pieces” #15 stands out for its drama. Czerny marks it “molto allegro,” and the repeated chords are, alternately, double-forte staccato homophony and piano legato polyphony (that is, with independant melodic inner voices)--dynamics that seem to exaggerate (for pedagogical purposes) the “sturm und drang” of Beethoven. At m 17 Czerny moves to the relative minor with a fine, long-line LH melody that dips into the lowest register of the piano, and he calls for double-piano and legatissimo. Here the harmony becomes new drama. From b flat minor he modulates to the key of the Neapolitan (B major) to repeat the LH melody, and at m 23 he begins a series of rapid modulations by half-steps up to the Aug6 of D flat major and a double-forte emergence into the sunlight of the home key at m 34. It’s a remarkable piece in a collection of remarkable pieces. But I don’t think it would be very useful in ballet class; the rapid and abrupt changes of volume and dynamics would more likely be a distraction during a combination than a support. I’ve re-imagined #15 as an extended adagio.


Op 335 #15, 1st Version: extended 4/4 adagio, 16 sets of 8-count phrases

Op 335 #15 1st Version Audio

This is my performance of #15 as an extended adagio, for which I supply a score. I analyze the structure of #15 as binary (AB), with mm 1-16 the A section, mm 17-33 a highly contrasting B section, and mm 34-45 a coda in the home key. In re-imagining Czerny’s material I’ve organized it in ternary form (AABA), slowed it to about a third of Czerny’s molto allegro, and recast Czerny’s percussive, declamatory repeated chords as a soft, gentle pulsation. I created a simple melody for the A section to contrast with Czerny’s wonderfully urgent B section, and deployed my melody first in the bass, then in the soprano, and, in the B section, in close dialog between bass and soprano. I thinned the chordal voices to keep the melodic content in clear focus.

I specifically have plies in mind for this music. Plies is typically the longest combination at the barre (when there’s no pause between sides) and choreographically the most static. A long ternary-form piece of music is well suited to the meditative aspects of plies, the “journey” aspect, the “story” aspect of beginning, middle and end. Typically the B section will be the start of the second side of plies, and you can energize it somewhat as a “new start”, but in this case it shouldn’t be allowed to become jarring or bombastic--I try to make it a “journey away” and then a “return to” the concluding A section.

Op 335 #15 1st Version Score


In Part One (Op 299 #27) I explained that most adagio combinations in ballet class are set in 3/4 because the “one” of 3/4 is easier to hear and keep track of than the “one” of 4/4: in 3/4 there’s only one count per measure; in 4/4 they are two. I wrote that we should always be on the lookout for a 4/4 adagio that can serve double duty as a 3/4 adagio. I described how a 4/4 adagio might, with more or less success, be turned into a 3/4 adagio or a 6/4 adagio. My 2nd Version of #15 is an arrangement of my 1st Version in 6/4 (which is then re-notated in 3/4).


Op 335 #15, 2nd Version: extended 3/4 adagio, 16 sets of 8-count phrases

Op 335 #15 2nd Version Audio

This is a performance of my 1st Version recast in 3/4, and I supply a score. For this music I specifically have ronds de jamb in mind. Ronds de jamb combinations are typically as long as plies, but choreographically complex. They usually have a binary character, with an “a terre” A section followed by a contrasting port de corps (or stretch) B section, and often a balance for a coda. In making my 3/4 arrangement of #15 I changed the ternary structure of my 1st Version back to Czerny’s binary structure in order to match the binary structure of ronds de jamb; that is, I simplified my 1st Version AABA structure to AB which is then repeated.

Op 335 #15 2nd Version Score

In the A section (the “a terre” part) I made the melody simpler than in my 1st Version, but introduced new melodic lines to the chordal accompaniment, creating at the outset of the piece a duet effect between tenor and soprano. In the B section (the port de corps, stretch section) I allowed for the drama of the first 16 bars (in Bb minor and B major), but used the next 16 bars to quiet the drama down and get back in the home key and prepare for the return of the A section. There’s no rule that says we have to match the binary character of ronds de jamb combinations, that we have to have a quiet “a terre” part followed by a contrasting “port de corps” part, or the other way around. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I offer this second arrangement of #15 partly as experiment and partly as illustration.

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It’s well to go into some detail analyzing my approach to this first study of Op 335; the analysis can serve as illustration of my approach to the rest of the studies in this and the other collections

This is certainly very modest music, and at Czerny’s deliberate tempo you have to work to keep it from sounding banal. But the clear 2-part counterpoint and the character of calm simplicity make it we

This is great frappe music. The energetic staccato and the 8th note anacruses in the A Section powerfully energize the downbeats--the “strike” of a frappe--and in my arrangement I’ve dotted the chords