The music of Dimitry Kabalevsky has had a big influence on me both as a student and teacher. The first work of his I learned to play was The Clown, a comical and indecisive caricature of a piece that every beginner pianist will recognize. I fondly remember learning his 24th prelude from op. 38 in the first year of my undergrad. This work barrels ahead like an industrial tempest but subsides in the closing section as the sun peaks its head out. Among my other favourite Russian composers such as Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich and Scriabin, Kabalevksy has influenced me greatly as a composer and it’s no surprise that soon after starting this funny waltz it seemed only fair to dedicate it to him.
With snow flakes dancing in the air the 2019 Christmas Recital at Harcourt United Church in Guelph kicked off with a bang. The furious Cavalry Gallop by Dimitry Kabalevsky launched out of the gate and got things rolling. It turned out to be a recital of many firsts, with four players of varying ages performing for their very first time. The budding performers played the nursery rhythm favourites Old MacDonald and Are You Sleeping?, as well as a Gavotte by Handel and Christopher Norton’s After the Battle.
My experiments in the realm of harmony continue. Currently I’m about half way through the RCM 10 Harmony book at we’ve just finished the passage on V9s and 13s. To me these chords immediately make me recall Chopin, as if they were his musical fingerprint. I thought I’d take another stab at composing something simple. My tendency is often to begin with simple intentions but end up with a piece 10 pages long and hard for anyone to play. This time I restricted myself to 16 measures. I thought I’d try to write another minuet, this time in the minor mode but by the time I tried it out at the keyboard I realized it was much more like a waltz. I almost achieved my first goal as it ended up being 21 measures. It turned out a tad more difficult than I wanted it to be but oh well. I’d say it’s more like grade 3 or probably 4 RCM. Still, I’m happy with the result. It reminds me a bit of Chopin combined with some Danny Elfman. What does it remind you of?