• rudyapffel-czerny

Czerny Op 299 #10, 3 Versions

Updated: Apr 4, 2019

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 easily be projected as an adagio (#27 is clearly another). In fact (again to my ears), #10 actually gains in musical value when slowed to a typical ballet class 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 remains great training for the LH.

While the musical value of the material of #10 is modest, Czerny’s complex structure gives the study interest and attractiveness. Structure analysis can become its own long-winded reward, but by way of a one-time example I propose my analysis of Czerny Op 299 #10 as a Song Without Words with an introduction, four contrasting themes, a cadenza, and a coda:

m 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

The irregular phrasing in the first half requires “squaring off” if you want to use #10 for a combination in class. In my 1st version arrangement I use only Czerny’s mm 2-20, and I repeat the 1st theme to round off the piece.

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 I think the tunes are less trivial, and 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.

1st Version: slow 6/8 cantabile, 8 sets of 8-count phrases

Op 299 #10 1st Version Audio

This is a performance of my “squared-off” arrangement, for which I supply a score.

Op 299 #10 1st Version Score

2d Version: slow 6/8 cantabile for the left hand alone, 8 sets of 8-count phrases.

Op 299 #10 2nd Version Audio

This is a 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 very 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 8va 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.

3rd Version: slow 6/8 cantabile Piano Duet, 8 sets of 8-count phrases

Op 299 #10 3rd Version Audio

With this "synthetic" arrangement (created with DAW software) I’ve tried to realize some of the musical beauty without getting too far from Czerny’s actual material. The arrangement is virtual 4-hands, not practical: the 2 players are at the very closest of quarters most of the time.