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Clair de Lune - why not an exam piece?


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#16 Yet another muso

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 23:01

 


I wonder whether exam boards don't set really well-known pieces, with a long history of multiple famous recordings

 

Except, of course, that they do set well known pieces with a long history of multiple famous recordings. Finzi's bagatelles for clarinet have seldom left the clarinet syllabus, movements from Haydn's Trumpet concerto constantly appear in the trumpet syllabus - Brahms' Lullaby is there in the piano syllabus, and Chopin's Minute Waltz has been set for Grade 8, Fauré's Sicilienne is a favourite choice for  flautists, and so on. Just because Claire de Lune seems to have only once been set for a piano grade should not, I think, be taken as a precedent for assuming that well-known pieces are not set.
 

 

The difference is that the repertoire for piano is so vast compared to other instruments. So particularly for wind and brass high grades, the same classics tend to keep coming round as syllabuses are refreshed, while each new piano syllabus brings many pieces that haven't been featured for a long time, or which have never appeared before. It's a very general trend and individual pieces buck the trend, so new syllabuses on other instruments include new discoveries, just not as many as for piano. And on piano, the most over familiar pieces do appear from time to time, just not as often. 


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#17 Hildegard

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Posted 16 July 2021 - 06:39

And on piano, the most over familiar pieces do appear from time to time, just not as often. 

 

 

I certainly agree with that. It's the idea that  "exam boards don't set really well-known pieces" which I think is mistaken.


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#18 EllieD

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 10:29

I managed to cope with the background noise and listen to Debussy play this - not sure I would want to listen to any other version now! All those runs of semiquavers become a beautiful ripple ... anyway, I'll never be able to play it like this, but something to aspire to! I think it seems to have got slowed down too much over the years, compared with Debussy's version.

 

 

Clair de Lune - YouTube


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#19 fsharpminor

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 10:50

I managed to cope with the background noise and listen to Debussy play this - not sure I would want to listen to any other version now! All those runs of semiquavers become a beautiful ripple ... anyway, I'll never be able to play it like this, but something to aspire to! I think it seems to have got slowed down too much over the years, compared with Debussy's version.

 

 

Clair de Lune - YouTube

I agree most performances are too slow, needs to be rather 'con moto'


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#20 Nine and a Half Fingers

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 10:43

I managed to cope with the background noise and listen to Debussy play this - not sure I would want to listen to any other version now! All those runs of semiquavers become a beautiful ripple ... anyway, I'll never be able to play it like this, but something to aspire to! I think it seems to have got slowed down too much over the years, compared with Debussy's version.

 

 

Clair de Lune - YouTube

 

Thanks for the link EllieD, When I listened  youtube offered me Lang Lang - nigh on twice the duration. According to wikipedia  "Clair de lune" was originally entitled "Promenade sentimentale" and reading the poem by Verlaine makes me think of the piece differently.

 

Interesting that some of the repeated chords over the deep bass notes (Tempo Rubato section) sound to me as if they are almost but not quite arpeggiated - anyone else hear that?


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#21 elemimele

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 21:17

Elam Rotem did a video on historical recordings, in his Early Music Sources series on YouTube. It's a bit of an odd one for him because in Rotem-world the early eighteenth century is hyper-modern (17th C seems more comfortably normal). But it's fascinating because these are recordings by people who were either contemporary with composers, or who were the generation after, i.e. people who learned directly from the composer's generation. I vaguely remember that tempo, a bit faster in the days of early recordings, was one of the themes.


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#22 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 16 August 2021 - 11:18

... have you ever seen Fur Elise set as an exam piece or the slow movement of the Moonlight Sonata? 

I did the Moonlight for grade 5, I think it was, somewhen in the 70s.


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#23 fsharpminor

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Posted 16 August 2021 - 12:54

1st movement Moonlight is simply too long for a grade syllabus.  My teacher did the whole sonata for ALCM.  Even Clair de Lune is quite long for a Grade 8 'C' piece. And Für Elise too long for a Grade 4/5 piece.


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#24 Invidia

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Posted 24 August 2021 - 11:30

Unfortunately there's no evidence that the Clair de Lune piano roll was made by Debussy, or even with his consent. The only verified recordings he made are listed here: https://www.henle.de...is-piano-music/

 

As for the original question, an old teacher of mine told me Clair de Lune was on the Grade 8 syllabus when she took her exam. No idea what year this would have been, but I assume it was ABRSM as this was the board she used for her own students...


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#25 agricola

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Posted 24 August 2021 - 12:49

Unfortunately there's no evidence that the Clair de Lune piano roll was made by Debussy, or even with his consent. The only verified recordings he made are listed here: https://www.henle.de...is-piano-music/

 

As for the original question, an old teacher of mine told me Clair de Lune was on the Grade 8 syllabus when she took her exam. No idea what year this would have been, but I assume it was ABRSM as this was the board she used for her own students...

 

That's very interesting -- I listened to Danseuses de Delphes from the link you have given and it does not sound to me like the same player as the Clair-de-Lune piano roll.  In Danseuses there is a very strong underlying sense of rhythm, which is exactly what I would have expected from Debussy even when playing tempo rubato.


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#26 fsharpminor

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Posted 24 August 2021 - 14:44

Unfortunately there's no evidence that the Clair de Lune piano roll was made by Debussy, or even with his consent. The only verified recordings he made are listed here: https://www.henle.de...is-piano-music/

 

As for the original question, an old teacher of mine told me Clair de Lune was on the Grade 8 syllabus when she took her exam. No idea what year this would have been, but I assume it was ABRSM as this was the board she used for her own students...

I have a spreadsheet (4000 entries) going back to early 60's which is mainly ABRSM with some other grades (not complete) added in.    I cannot find Clair de Lune  . From Suite Bergamasque 'Passpied' was set for Grade 8 in 1964  (not since), and the Prelude in 2013  (Probably the easiest of the four).


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#27 Hildegard

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Posted 24 August 2021 - 16:12

Claire de Lune is listed as Grade 8 in the Edexcel Difficulty Levels booklet, which means that one of the boards has set it at that level in the past. Unfortunately, the booklet doesn't state which boards or in which years.


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#28 Invidia

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Posted 25 August 2021 - 11:43

 

Unfortunately there's no evidence that the Clair de Lune piano roll was made by Debussy, or even with his consent. The only verified recordings he made are listed here: https://www.henle.de...is-piano-music/

 

As for the original question, an old teacher of mine told me Clair de Lune was on the Grade 8 syllabus when she took her exam. No idea what year this would have been, but I assume it was ABRSM as this was the board she used for her own students...

 

That's very interesting -- I listened to Danseuses de Delphes from the link you have given and it does not sound to me like the same player as the Clair-de-Lune piano roll.  In Danseuses there is a very strong underlying sense of rhythm, which is exactly what I would have expected from Debussy even when playing tempo rubato.

 

 

Debussy had a reputation for being very particular, sometimes to the point of harshness. For that reason I find La Cathedrale engloutie interesting because there are obvious differences between his performance and the score. The comment below the article by Debussy specialist Roy Howat suggests that the recording is what Debussy intended, and the score is wrong. Fascinating stuff!

 

 

As to Clair de lune not being on any list for several decades, I have no idea I was just reporting what my teacher said. She wasn't much older than me and I was born in the 80s, so she definitely wasn't referring to pre-60s lists! Perhaps she meant it was Grade 8 level and I interpreted it as meaning it was literally on the syllabus?


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