25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

5. Innocence in F Major

Beginning at a gentle p dynamic (as so many of the études do), the tempo is moderato (not too fast) and the mood grazisoso (graceful). The composer leaves it to us to decide the dynamic level at the end of the crescendo in the first half of this binary piece. My sense is that it should not rise above a mf, in order that the crescendo to f in bar 13 (where we find the highest note in the piece) marks the climax. On the final chord, also marked f, we find the lowest LH note (bass F). Play this chord with relaxed arm weight from the surface of the keys, enjoying the resonance that a touch of (direct) pedal adds to the sound. Remember that crescendo means to start softly for the maximum effect. You will probably find you want to start the crescendo at the start of the rising RH patterns at the start of the second half (from bar 9), but resist! Notice the instruction to get louder is not given until bar 11 (where we should still officially be p).

In Innocence we need to distinguish between the two different kinds of slurs - the soft release (float off) and the sharp release (kick off). In the sighing slurs we find in bars 2, 4, and 7, feel the dissonance created by the first note of the pair, which is an appoggiatura (and therefore accented). Play the second note very softly and slightly shorter than the written quaver, using a rising motion in the wrist to release the arm weight. You will need to experiment until you find the correct range of motion for the slurs, remembering we can release upwards in the wrist while still retaining contact with the keyboard (there is no time to come up too far). In the second type of slur (from bar 9) the staccato dot suggests an accent, in addition to its more obvious instruction to shorten the note. Kick off the staccato quaver energetically, stressing it.

Compare the short phrase markings we find over each of semiquavers (16th notes) in bars 1 and 6 with the longer phrase markings in bars 3, 5, 13 and 15. Should we lift our hand at the end of each short phrase mark? At this tempo it would sound jerky and pedantic to attempt anything more than a slight stress at the beginning of the short phrases, with a diminuendo to the end of the group. Thus in bar 1, all we need to do is play the RH legato, thinking ta-da-da-da, ta-da-da-da, ta-da-da-da. This is similar to the effect produced when a string player changes the direction of the bow, or a wind player tongues. The longer phrase markings that go across the whole bar suggest just that – a longer phrase with no stresses on the second and third beats.

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