25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

20. La Tarentelle in D Minor

The tarantella is a fast Neapolitan folk dance in compound time, characterised by spinning patterns. We find many examples in the piano repertoire; Prokoviev’s Tarantella from his Music for Children, op 65, also in the key of D minor and around the same level of difficulty, would make an excellent comparison piece.

There are elements of bravura in this étude, fast and loud passages (with repeated notes) alternating with more delicate leggiero phrases. Allow the arm to steer the hand in the introduction, avoiding curling up the fingers on the repeated notes. The fingering from the original edition suggests a change of finger on some of the repeated notes (3 to 1, and 1 to 3), using the same finger on others (3 to 3, and 1 to 1). In order not to tighten up on the strong sf accents in the introduction, it may be helpful to thrust the wrist upwards and forwards on the accents, while keeping the finger as close as possible to the key. Observe the length of the crotchet (quarter note) chords from bar 5 – 8, these chords must not be sluggish. The left-hand chords in the tonic major section (from bar 33) are marked with a staccato stroke, implying a crisp accented approach with a fast release. Hold the dotted crotchet left-hand chords elsewhere as long as possible. Wrist circles will assist the fingers in the left hand from bar 21 – spin clockwise, coming up and round on the pinky notes. Play the grace notes (acciaccaturas) from bar 41 before the beat; the original fingering (3 then 2) allows the repeated notes to be played as though two-note slurs, using a drop-roll (down-up) motion generated from the upper arm. Light touches of pedal may be used for added resonance.

If all the composer’s repeats are observed, La tarantelle makes a substantial recital piece for the intermediate pianist.

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