25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

14. La Styrienne (Styrian Dance) in G Major

La Styrienne (Styrian Dance) is a fast Austrian waltz in folk style, characterised by strong first beats (often featuring grace notes). The metronome mark in the original French edition is 176 for the crotchet, which is on the fast side. Whatever tempo you eventually settle on should not be metronomic in any strict sense beat by beat. The way Austrian waltzes move is very difficult to describe, but we will get a better sense of their unique style and character after listening to a few different examples of such music (Johann Strauss would be a good place to start). This study gives the player an opportunity to find different tone colours for each of the three main keys; G major is light and graceful, E minor (B section) a little darker and more expressive, and C major (C section) open, rustic and robust.

The crochets in the introduction are played with a light staccato (pedal is not necessary). The grazioso marking in bar 4 invites a little bending of the time, and we can surely linger for a millisecond on the downbeat A in the right hand of bar 5, etc. The composer requests a little more time over such expressive corners later in the piece with riten and rall markings, which need to be more obvious. The staccato quavers in bars 6 and 7, etc., are especially light and delicate, but do enjoy the rhythmic accent and the dissonance on the first beats, especially where we find an acciaccatura. The ornaments in the B section (bars 13, 14, etc) are almost certainly better placed on the beat (together with the left hand); placing them before the beat risks introducing a hiatus and will tend to sound ungainly unless this is done very carefully. The left hand crotchet chords (bar 13, etc.) are played longer but not legato; the long bass Bs (bars 14 and 15) add enough resonance so that pedal is probably not necessary (but a short dab would be fine). Enjoy the right leaps in the C section (from bar 28), making sure not to rush them; placing them makes them feel safe, and also adds to the decisive rhythmic character. You might experiment with a little more pedal here.

In the French edition the four-bar introduction is repeated at the da capo, in later editions it is missed out the second time. Either way works well.

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