25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

10. Tendre Fleur (Tender Flower) in D Major

The presence of a descriptive title inspires the imagination before we even play a note, and Tendre Fleur (Tender Flower) is all about pastel colours, sensitivity of touch and mood, and delicate expression. Marked p delicato, we discover two-note sighing slurs in arpeggio patterns that rise then fall, meandering quaver lines and sparse harmonies. The harmonic language is extremely simple – tonic and dominant harmonies alternate with each other in the home key of D (A section) and then in the dominant key of A (B section). A standard chord progression from bar 13 – 15 breaks the pattern and adds some variety (I-iib-Ic-V7-I in A major).

The upper mordents in bar 13 might be played on or before the beat, at the performer’s choice. Whichever way you decide, play the ornaments lightly and gracefully. The mezzo staccato marking over the last four quavers of bar 16 adds drag to the end of the rallentando; play these notes as long as possible without joining them.

It is possible to play the étude with no pedal at all, but it might end up sounding rather flat and somewhat dry. However, it is not possible to notate the kind of pedalling that would raise a performance of this music from the mundane to the artistic. After mastering the piece with no pedal, you might add tiny dabs of resonance here and there. Place your foot on the right pedal and see what your foot might want to do, remembering that the pedal does not have to go all the way down to create its magic.

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