Most piano students are familiar with Friedrich Burgmuller’s set of Twenty-Five Easy and Progressive Studies, Op. 100, that are tasteful Romantic era miniatures with appealing programmatic titles. “Tender Flower,” “The Little Party,” and “The Wagtail,” to name a few, are far from dripping with the excesses that one might encounter in the manuscripts of Romantic era contemporary, Franz Von Suppe, who orchestrated thunderous music that ceaselessly gallops to final cadence in The Light Cavalry Overture.
Such exaggerated musical forays, though instantly ear-catching, would inevitably invite well-recognized eyeball-rolling among listeners who absorbed a stash of rhythmic and melodic repetitions.
Burgmuller, no doubt, must have possessed a keen ear to the pulse of such 19th Century musical culture, responding with a markedly colorful piece that would earn instant popularity among advancing piano students.
Though the composer’s “L’Orage” elicits a reserved nod of approval, it will nevertheless remain a signature piece for students who want to ride into the “eye” of the storm without being overcome by the force of its technical challenges.
To tame gusty winds and rain rising to climactic levels, one must, therefore, examine ways to practice the piece so it does not overwhelm, intimidate, or imperil the player.
Braving the natural elements, I set out to plan a video built around slow practicing Op. 109, No. 13, using big arm energies, supple wrists, weight transfer and rotation, framed by attentive listening.
L’Orage (Baldwin piano)
L’Orage (Steinway piano)