Czerny Op 335 #1, 2 Versions
Updated: Mar 26, 2019
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.
Czerny marks #1 moderato, with the quarter @112, and a study in legato for both hands. It’s often pointed out that the piano is a percussion instrument, and legato is difficult. I’d go further and say a slow single-voice legato scale isn’t really possible on the piano. Each successive note sounds struck, not tied. We aim for the illusion of true legato on the piano, but it’s also a fact that a truly legato scale (or the illusion of one) isn’t just a challenge but it’s also just about the dullest thing you can do on the piano. The most fundamental departure I make from Czerny’s pedagogical program in Op 335 is to ignore it.
In the opening of this first study Czerny highlights the technical challenge of the legato RH scale by having the LH provide the barest of harmonic support. Czerny does this a lot in his technical studies: have one hand play the challenging material (we might call this the “working hand”) while the other hand plays some minimal, static support. Czerny exposes the “working hand” so that any fault in execution is clearly audible. This usually makes the music thin and lacking in color and rhythmic interest
As a ballet accompanist I need to make #1 (and all the rest of the studies I use) into a solidly and audibly structured piece with clear counts and rhythm, but also with interesting texture and color. Except for a few special cases I always fill out Czerny’s “non-working” hand. And this becomes one of the pleasures of arranging and re-imagining these studies, coming up with this kind of new material.
Czerny structures #1 in binary form, with the A section RH playing scalar and triadic 8th notes over LH long notes in harmonic support (mm 1-20). In the B section Czerny moves the 8th note material to the LH and the harmonic support to the RH, but now with melody and polyphony (mm 21-27). At m 28 both hands take up 8th note motion in parallel 10ths, and this 2-voice texture blooms into 3-voices at m 32 and 4-voices at m 36. There begins at m 37 a very long pedal point on G, with now one hand in 8ths and the other in long notes, now both in parallel 10ths, now some stepwise melodic material introduced in a 3rd voice. At m 67 Czerny finally introduces an F natural, signalling V7 and a return to the tonic and a 6-bar closing theme.
That pedal point is 32 measures long, and while Czerny’s patterns are interesting and euphonious the material seems meandering to me, even time-killing--at least compared to the much more structured mm 1-36. I think the most useful material of #1, from the standpoint of fashioning a piece for ballet class, is mm 1-36, and from that material I’ve arranged two shortcut versions that you can quickly get into your repertory.
Op 335 #1, 1st Version: moderato 3/4 in placid running 8ths, 8 sets of 8-count phrases
This is a performance of my arrangement of Czerny’s first study using only about half of his material, and I provide a score.
The first problem is to decide where to cut 4 measures in Czerny’s A section to get two 8-count phrases. I opted for cutting mm 15-18. I filled in Czerny’s LH taking my cue from his half-note-quarter-note rhythm in mm 5-6. I wrote a second ending for the repeat of the A section to anticipate the exchange of material between the hands: the LH takes up the 8th note patterns, the RH takes up the chordal material.
Then there’s the matter of how you want to structure mm 1-36, squared off and with an even number of 8-count phrases. I’ve opted for an AABA form. This entails re-writing Czerny’s m 36 to move my B section harmony back to the tonic, and then re-writing the close of the A section to keep it in the tonic.
There’s a danger of losing the beat starting at m 29 when the hands are in parallel 10ths and then 3- and 4-voice stretto. It’s lovely music, but for class you’ve got to keep the pulse audible to support the counts. You can accent the downbeats of each measure, but that can sound crude in a slow tempo. I’ve chosen to thin out the polyphony and interrupt the continuous 8th-note texture with quarter notes that keep the pulse clear. I’ve also moved the LH down to get relief from the high tessitura.
Op 335 #1, 2nd Version: Austrian landler, 8 sets of 8-count phrases
This is a performance of my arrangement of #1 re-imagined as an Austrian Landler (a folk dance, not a waltz), and no longer a study in legato. You need only pick up the tempo of #1 and play the 8ths half-staccatto and the transformation is complete. I liked going a step further and fashioned a more stompy LH part for the A section, and further thinned the polyphony of the B section to make it more like a bit of yodeling between LH and RH. I provide a score.