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Czerny Op 335 #6, 6 versions

In several ways this is the ideal Czerny study for a ballet accompanist. Its four-square binary structure is ready-made for ballet class, and its character matches several different ballet techniques. At Czerny’s speed (4ter @ 138) the continuous acciacatura (or “crushed note”) writing conveys a blend of flitting hurry and spookiness, and when played with force #6 is uniquely effective for frappes, battues, piques. With less force and a slower tempo it becomes an allegro pointe variation. And it’s not particularly difficult.

But above all, #6 has an excellent little tune, and excellent little tunes can be played very effectively in different meters across a wide range of tempos and styles.

Op 335 #6, 1st Version: sharp 2/4 with great force at great speed, the melody in continuous “acciacatura,” 16 sets of 8-count phrases

This is my performance of #6 in which I’m going for the frappe-pique dynamic--great force at great speed. I provide a score in which it can be seen that my main meddling with Czerny’s material has been to thin out his LH, a prodecure not only convenient and unobstrusive in most of his studies, but often an improvement, given the heft of our modern pianos. In the A section Czerny’s LH can be thinned without loss of harmony, but the matter gets tricky in the B section where his LH chords are often 4-voice diminished and dominant 7ths. Those 7th chords are always repeated, so my solution is to reduce the voices of the chords but move them to another inversion when they repeat. I provide a score to show my changes. In my performance I play Czerny’s study twice, the first time as-written (except my thinning out his LH chords), the second time with my embellishments. Also I play Czerny’s study the first time in c#, and my embellished version in d. The transposition isn’t necessary, but it sounded more exciting to me.

Op 335 #6, 2nd Version: light, sharp 2/4, the melody in continuous “acciacatura,” 8 sets of 8-count phrases

This is my performance of my arrangement of #6 in the style of a pointe variation, slower, lighter and calmer than my 1st Version. I provide a score. In reducing the speed I don’t want the RH 32’s to become 16ths, or the LH 8ths to become quarters--I don’t want to play #6 in slow-motion. I want the RH’s 2-note figures to be closer to 64ths with the rests commensurately lengthened between them, and the LH 8ths similarly realized as 16ths.

Reduce the speed even more, abstract Czerny’s RH melody into equal 16th notes, and a tango suddenly emerges--you can almost hear “El Choclo” (aka “Kiss of Fire”).

Op 335 #6, 3rd Version: Argentine Tango, 8 sets of 8-count phrases

This is my performance of #6 re-imagined as an Argentine tango, for which I provide a score. There are many different LH figures that support a tango or rhumba for Czerny’s new melody, and many places to syncopate that melody in order to project drama. My score presents some of the possibilities--in the A section I’m experimenting with a rhumba-like figure; in the B section something more starkly tango.

Slowing Czerny’s tune can be continued indefinitely, taking us further and further away from what he wrote. The process becomes a game, entertaining and useful.

Op 335 #6, 4th Version: 4/4 Grand Battement after Prokofiev, 8 sets of 8-count phrases

This is my performance of Czerny’s RH tune slowed to the tempo of a typical 4/4 grand battement, for which I provide a score. I introduce under Czerny’s tune the rhythmic and harmonic material of Prokofiev’s “The Montagues and Capulets” from Romeo and Juliet--one of the most familiar selections for grand battement, at least in American ballet classes. This kind of folding a familiar piece of music into another piece of music is great fun to work out and great fun for listeners. I have no formula that tells me in advance whether one tune will fit into another, but an obvious guideline is a shared harmonic progression and rhythm. The rest is experiment and tweaking.

I’ve made two 3/4 arrangements of #6, one short, one extended:

Op 335 #6, 5th Version: Little Jazz Waltz, 16 sets of 8-count phrases

This is my performance of Czerny’s study re-imagined in jazz waltz rhythm. I provide a score of the basic arrangement in eb. The syncopated patterns of a jazz waltz aren’t hard to follow in a ballet class, even for less musically sophisticated students, so long as you keep the downbeat--the “one”--clear. I’ve reshaped Czerny’s binary form into a typical American pop standard ternary form, using half of Czerny’s B section for a bridge and repeating his A section with a cadence in the tonic. My performance repeats the waltz up a 4th with some variation--the kind of thing expected with a repeat of a jazz piece--in fact, if you’re an experienced player you may want to launch “solo’s” and considerably more variation in your repeat than I’ve done.

Op 335 #6, 6th Version: Spanish Waltz, 24 sets of 8-count phrases

This is my performance of Czerny’s study re-imagined as a full-blown ballet class grand allegro, for which I supply a basic score. My score presents Czerny’s tune twice, first in a simple, straightforward way, second with elaborated harmony, rhythm and embellishments. In my performance I play the score and then another repeat with multiple-player enhancements. If you use only the first, simple iteration for centre I think it holds up for a number of repetitions, but it would be great if you can vary the material on the repeats, and my score’s second rendering is a suggestion of the kind of things I like to do with a tune like this. Also, given Czerny’s very simple harmonizing of his tune there should be little problem transposing it up or down: I transpose up a half step for each of my repeats.

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