25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

9. La Chasse (Hunting Song) in C Major

The previous two studies were about delicacy and control of sound in the softer dynamic levels; La chasse has all the energy and colour of a hunt, with a dynamic range from pp to f. The form is rondo (A-B-A-C-A), with an introduction and a coda. We clearly hear the hunting horns and the galloping of horses’ hooves, and we feel the excitement of the occasion. Do we also detect a certain compassion for the poor fox in the troubled B section (dominant minor, poco agitato) and the expressive C section in the relative minor, marked dolente (sadly)?

The staccato chords in introduction need our consideration. As we build the crescendo from p to f, give the crotchets more length and more weight than the quavers. The octave jumps in the right hand of the A section pose a technical problem. I recommend Burgmüller’s own fingering (5-2-1), and suggest practising the right hand alone in different rhythms - YA-ta-ta, YA-ta-ta (to encourage energetic propulsion away from the 5th finger, and a secure link from the thumb back to the next 5th finger), and ya-TA-ta, ya-TA-ta (to ensure the spring-off from the 5th finger lands us firmly into the 2nd finger). The rhythms would be written as “quaver-semiquaver-semiquaver” and “semiquaver-quaver-semiquaver” respectively, but all notes would be played short. The left hand’s top notes carry the melody line (easy to bring out if you use the thumb on each); the accents indicate that each four-bar phrase peaks in the second bar on the first beat, the second phrase an echo of the first. A legato can be achieved in the right hand of bar 15, etc., if the 3rd finger is released just before the second beat, the legato connection produced from the 5th finger.

The harmonic progression in the C section (bars 29-36) is worth exploring, possibly as the basis for improvisation. In the key of A minor, we find: i – iv – i – V7/iv – iv – ic (i6/4) – V7 - i. Block out the left hand, noticing that the rate of harmonic change in bar 35 is twice as fast as in other bars.

The coda introduces a new term – perdendosi, which means dying away.

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