25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

25. La Chevaleresque

We arrive back where we started in the key of C major for the final étude in the set, La chevaleresque (Trotting). We can see the little horse trotting - maybe in a circus or maybe showing off at a dressage event. Either way the moves are highly organised, elegant and controlled. Sometimes translated as “The Spirit of Chivalry” the title has connotations of gallantry (courtesy between men and women).

There are four 8-bar sections, the first three of which are repeated. If we play all of Burgmüller’s repeats as marked, we have a recital piece of substantial length and interest. The opening section introduces the march-like idea (allegro marziale) but piano. Play the crisp staccato chords with a pizzicato touch, plucked from the fingertips, listening carefully to tonal balance and voicing (a little more on the top notes will focus the sound). Savour the early modulation to the relative minor (bars 3-4) and enjoy the chromatic colouring in bar 7. In bar 9 be sure to play the triplets at exactly the same tempo as the opening section (there might be a tendency to rush here), making the most of the forte-piano dynamic contrasts.

Triplets are a feature of the next section, in the subdominant key of F major. Keep the RH even yet shapely, relishing the beautiful transparency and brilliance of the upper register. After a return to the opening march, we find new material in bar 33. For the RH to work well you will need to organise a good fingering – experiment until you find one that works for you, write it in the score and stick to it each time you practise. After a variation of this phrase (bars 37-40) we embark on the coda, featuring jubilant running scales in the home key. A fanfare of ff chords closes the piece triumphantly, and we can bask in the satisfaction of completing an entire opus. How far we have come since we started our journey, and how much we have learned along the way!

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