25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

6. Progrès (Progress) in C Major

We return to C major for this lively, cheerful piece entitled Progrès (Progress). With touches of laughter (the staccato quavers in bars 3, 4 and 7), this study celebrates the pleasure in making progress - we have come a long way on our journey already! This study features scales in parallel tenths, a contrary motion scale, changes of touch from legato to staccato, rapid changes in hand position with jumps in both hands, and syncopated slurs.

The general rule that the first note of a slur should take the accent, no matter which beat it falls on, is reinforced by the composer’s markings (>) on every slurred quaver pair from bars 9-12. Are these accents though, or hairpin diminuendos? In my Wiener Urtext edition, the markings are elongated and look like a hybrid between the two; other editions print them using regular accent signs. They serve as an added reminder, if one were needed, to play the second note softer and lighter despite the resolution falling on the beats. These are the same strong-weak type of slurs that we found in Innocence; instead of sighs the syncopations and wide intervals here lend a jubilant energy, and we will certainly need to propel the arm off the staccato releases to take us to the next position. These careful and consistent accent-hairpin markings over the slurs are no longer present from bar 13, when the accentuation surely shifts more toward the second quaver of each RH pair, forming a melodic line (it is worth practising the RH once or twice without the E’s to hear this line, and how it fits together with the LH).

The indication D.C. in bar 16 instructs us to return to the beginning and play the first half again (to bar 8, where we find the marking Fine). Remember that whenever we find this direction in any piece of music the repeat is not optional, but integral to the structure of the music.

Practise the given scale patterns in bars 1 and 2, not only upwards as written, but also backwards – on a loop, repeating up and back until fluent and comfortable. You can also practise the semiquavers in a dotted rhythm (long-short, and short-long), a good exercise for synchronising the hands and building in control of the fingers. To add more value, to prepare for the contrary motion scale in bar 8 I recommend playing a scale of C major in the Russian form (similar motion two octaves ascending; contrary motion two octaves outwards then back inwards; similar motion two octaves descending).

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