25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

21. L’Harmonie des Anges (The Music of the Angels) in G Major

The marking armonioso (harmoniously) implies that L’harmonie des anges (The Music of the Angels) requires pedal to blend the notes into clouds of harmony. How we pedal is actually the main objective of the étude; it will soon become apparent that there are plenty of possible solutions that can work, and that variety in our pedalling is called for.

Literal-minded players may conclude that the pedal must be cleared in the presence of rests. While this may be a good guideline for Baroque and Classical period music, Romantic style is much freer. The left-hand rests in bar 1, for example, are present because the left hand is not required to play any notes in the middle of the bar, and the number of beats must of course tally with the time signature. I recommend whole-bar legato pedals for the first four bars, etc., although it is certainly feasible to make an additional change on the third beats in bars 3 and 4 if you prefer to clarify the texture. It is also possible to use direct pedals, depressing the pedal on the downbeat and releasing it on the fourth beat (bars 1 and 2) if you like the articulation this brings to the end of the bar. It follows that bars 3 and 4 might have a pedal on the first and third beats, with a release on the second and fourth. Experiment, and discover the type of resonance you are comfortable with. Whole-bar pedals can be very effective even when a passing note or a non-harmonic tone is included. The slight dissonance created by the passing note, B in the right hand of bar 5, for example, does not disturb the ear when the pedal is held through. Bars 9 and 10 might be done in one long pedal – this build-up of resonance will help the crescendo.

Burgmüller presents us with an interesting change of texture from bar 25 – we are now instructed to play the left-hand harmonies using finger pedalling (or overholding touch), implying that no pedal should be used until the closing chords (più lento).

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