25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

16. Douce Plainte (Tender Appeal) in G Minor

Douce plainte (Gentle Complaint) is a study in expressive playing, requiring very careful listening indeed. In the key of G minor, and marked dolente (sadly), we find expression not only in the melodic line that passes from one hand to the other, but also in the rises and falls in the accompaniment figuration (we respond by adding our own gentle hairpins, with no accent on the final quaver of the slurred groups). Playing a melodic line in legato cantabile style involves not merely projecting it over the accompaniment, but also paying attention to how one note relates to the next tonally. The first step is to sing the line out loud, noting how you would naturally want to shape and colour it (where the high and low points and breathing places occur, adding any rubato you feel). Play the first quaver after the long note (bar 1, etc.) without accent, factoring in the natural decay in sound of the minims – a bump here would disturb the line.

The second section (from bar 9) builds towards the climax (bar 13). Voice the staccato quaver chords to the top notes, and enjoy the brief moment of brightness in bars 11-12 as the music touches on the relative major (Bb). It would be problematic to suggest pedal. At the artist’s level, some dabs of pedal are of course possible but, if touch is well controlled, the study works well without.

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