Festival – Performance Notes

Festival is one of those fun pieces that is much easier to play than it sounds. Almost everything should just fit neatly under your fingers, though there are one or two tricky corners. Lively and brilliant, it doesn't need to be too fast, but it does need to be rhythmical and have a good bounce. Use the pedal more sparingly than in some of my works – I found that my use of the pedal was restricted to the climactic sections and the middle, more expressive, section.

The first bit of tricky technique is the left hand leaps (e.g. bars 11–13). This is a good technique to master: take a little pause, while practicing, to position the left hand correctly over the second chord before playing it and as you get more confident and practiced gradually eliminate the pause and bring it into time - when you've got that you'll be ready to put the hands together. If you find that too difficult, then this piece will work if you play the second chord at the pitch of the first one for example:
instead of

The other tricky bit is the glissando at the end, which is actually quite easy to execute once you know what you're doing. In this case you're doing a white-note glissando, using the right hand ascending the keyboard - you're going from the A below middle C to the top note on your piano.

I found playing the glissando worked with my 3rd and 4th fingers, but depending on the size and shape of your hand you might use fingers 2, 3 and 4. Keeping your hand upright and fingers straight, turn it 90 degrees from your normal position and play the first note with both your 3rd and 4th fingers – your fingernails should be facing up the keyboard. You then stroke your hand up the keyboard, leading with your fingernails. It's important that you keep your hand upright and not pressed too hard into the key bed, you need to catch the edge of each new key with the fingernail and not with the skin above the nail (which is quite painful).

(For reference, playing a descending right hand glissando is done with the thumb nail, and it is of course reversed in the left hand – fingernails to go down, and thumbnail to go up.)

Performance Notes

Return to the download page:

The Thaw

Read more performance notes:

1. Prelude: Winter
2. The Thaw
3. Fleeting Clouds
4. Snowdrops
5. Festival

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