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Czerny Op 335 #48, 2 Versions

I’m not deeply read in music history or musicology, so I don’t know whether there is somewhere a study of the development of fioriture in 19th Century European piano music, but I know that such a study could usefully be written. We pianists with a non-specialist acquaintance with 19th Century European piano music can probably agree that the composers who did the most to develop the device of fioriture on the piano were Beethoven, Czerny, Liszt and Chopin, and of those four, Chopin marks a pinnacle. Once we get to know Chopin’s fioriture (in The Barcarolle, in the nocturnes, in the Berceuse, in the concertos...) it’s impossible to hear Liszt’s ubiquitous, ever-handy chromatic scales in thirds without a twinge of embarrassment.

Czerny seems to me to stand the comparison a bit better; he is, at least, more adventuresome. For sure, #48 is a study in RH fioriture, and Czerny presents the student with an arsenal of scales, turns, broken triads, skips, repeated notes, and breathless changes of register over placid, unchanging LH rising arpeggios.

In arranging #48 for ballet class my concern was the same as with #31: to shape an audibly square structure out of Czerny’s material. However, my approach to his fioriture is the opposite of the approach I adopted with #31; here I’ve reduced his RH to a simple melody line.

Op 335 #48, 1st Version: 4/4 Adagio, 8 sets of 8-count phrases

This is my performance, for which I provide a score, of my arrangement of #48 as a melodic “reduction.” In it I’ve abstracted from Czerny’s RH material a basic melody. My process is similar to a Schenkerian analysis, but much less rigorous and much more subjective in that once I abstracted a basic melody I introduced passing tones to smooth it out and varied note values to give it some rhythmic interest. My purpose is not to offer a melodic analysis of Czerny’s RH, but a skeletel version which we may embellish or not. As for the structure, I’ve expanded Czerny’s mm 9-12 to create a square A section, and I’ve recapitulated the opening material after Czerny’s A Major section to create a ternary form.

As I’ve explained before, teachers tend to favor a triple meter for adagio, so if you put #48 in your repertory it’s well to have a version in 3/4.

Op 335 #48, 2nd Version: 3/4 Adagio, 16 sets of 8-count phrases

This is my performance of my 1st Version recast in 3/4, for which I supply a score. I’ve introduced more detail into the writing for both hands. The process of moving from an abstracted melody to more and more elaboration is one you can conduct on any piece of music, and it’s a very useful exercise when assembling repertory for class.

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