Issue 90: Another accompanist’s nightmare – Promenade

Those of you who have been following The Music Jungle for a while will have heard my lamentations over the Grade 4 saxophone set piece, “The Swan” from Carnival of the Animals”.

To date I have kept quiet over my shameful attempts to sight-read my way through the accompaniment to the Grade 3 saxophone piece “Promenade” from Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”. I have studies several of the piano versions of “Pictures” in my heyday as a pianist, when my fingers were agile and stretchy, and I could manage octaves, although I always had some difficulty if there were other notes included in the chord. My poor little short fat fingers simply can’t reach some of the notes, and I have become adept at bodging and blagging my way through some of the passages. Another accompanist that I was comparing notes with (regarding a Grade 8 Brahms Violin Sonata) called it “thinning out the piano part”. Exactly.

Anyway, the last time I played – hacked – my way through Promenade must be about 8 years ago. The saxophonist, a cheerful, confident and very gifted musician survived the experience with aplomb, and I survived the look that the examiner gave me at the end of the piece. Then I went to the teacher and said “Never Again” con molto espressivo and he took me at my word. Until now.

This time I have TWO candidates to accompany, both playing Promenade, and NEITHER of them seems to think that it is necessary to make any distinction between quavers or crotchets, or to count rests with any consistency.

I am NOT A HAPPY BUNNY. But I have taken the trouble to massively “thin out” the accompaniment so I should be able to cope with whatever these two budding saxophonists decide to actually do on the day.

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