This work also includes a number of diploma level compositions highly suitable for competition or examination use given their compact size and relatively short duration. The set reveals Burge’s close affinity to the music of Chopin. Equally though, the Preludes of Debussy, with their expressive textural sonorities and colour, can also be considered touchstones, especially in the way that Burge provides subtitles for fourteen of his Preludes. Composed over the years 2011-2015, Burge personally premiered a few at a time so that the music had a long period of gestation, finally premiering the entire set in 2015 (a complete performance takes about one hour). The most unusual aspect of these Preludes is that eight of them use extended instrumental techniques such as strumming strings inside the piano. These techniques are very simple to execute and do not require any advance preparation of the piano but in most cases can only be realized successfully on a grand piano with the music stand removed. As a guiding principle, Burge tried to embrace each Prelude’s tonic key in an audibly recognizable fashion so that at times the music is emphatically tonal, even in the Preludes that involve non-traditional performance practices.
While some of the Preludes have a difficulty level appropriate to Grades 8 and 9 repertoire (“Prelude No. 5” was published previously in Northern Lights Volume 8B), the majority of the Preludes are at a Grade 10 or Diploma level of difficulty and as such, have much potential for piano competition and examination use. The 2022 Royal Conservatory of Music 2022 Piano Celebration Series published Prelude No. 9 in C sharp minor in the Level 9 Etude Book and Prelude No. 1 in C major in the Level 10 Etude Book. Prelude No. 16 in B flat minor (subtitled, “The Hummingbird”), appears in the RCM 2022 Piano Syllabus as an ARCT Examination piece in List E. The music is beautifully printed with a coil binding hidden by a fold-over cover for lasting protection and durability. 80 pages.
The Scottish pianist, Murray McLachlan, reviewed these Preludes in the magazine: International Piano – Jan/Feb 2018
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These include: Ireland’s Most Beautiful Ancient Airs, Enchanted World, Studies in Poetry Vols. 2, 3 & 5, 24 Preludes for Solo Piano, Searching the Painted Sky Opera, Sixty Fingers and Rhythm Practice.
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