Czerny Op 335 #15, 2 versions
Updated: Mar 26, 2019
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
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.
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
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.
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.