The Thaw – Performance Notes

The only difficult bit of this piece is the continual two-against-three rhythm. I once, many years ago, swore I'd never write this - but it really does work! If you can master that, not only will you be able to play this piece, but a whole world of beautiful music will open up to you.

Practice each hand separately (which of course you do anyway) – really get comfortable with each part. Then put it together really slowly. The second note in the right hand (which is playing two notes against three in the left) comes just after the second note in the left hand - you can draw a little line on the score to indicate where the notes go. Play it deliberately and exaggerate the rhythm. As you practice it bring the speed up gently and you'll be amazed at how it flows – keep listening to each part so that it doesn't merge into the rhythm of the other. (If necessary, never be afraid to take a passage apart again and get each hand correct.)

Don't take it too fast. It's probably easier to make it flow at a slightly faster speed, but making it expressive is more important. Some rubato can be used to bring out the expressiveness, but don't undermine the cross-rhythms. I found that to learn it I had to play it slowly at first to get the rhythm right, then a little too fast to make it flow, and then finally I slowed it down to make it expressive.

Generally speaking this should be played sensitively, with the pedal throughout. Though there are a few points (e.g. bar 56, and bars 66-67) where the pedal should be left off.

Performance Notes

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The Thaw

Read more performance notes:

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

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