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Tournier’s Theme and Variations

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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  • #83162
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    I wanted to say a little something about this piece, because I only recently discovered it. I had to teach it to a student and came across it almost by accident. The whole piece is written at a low intermediate level technically and it’s WONDERFUL! It’s a great recital piece, but over the years of listening to countless student recitals I’ve never heard anyone play it. That’s a shame. It should be in the standard repertoire for that level. It’s very musical, great to listen to, sounds much harder than it really is, and it’s a really nice survey of technique at that level. It’s so difficult to find good repertoire at that level, and this is a really good introduction into real music as well as a chance for a student at that level to play, for the first time, a much longer piece of music than the 1 to 3 page pieces typical of this level. This one is 19 pages long. Its great to teach too. Because it is a set of variations, you can assign one variation at a time, so it breaks up teachingwise very easily. And you can also shorten it if needed by cutting out one or more variations.

    After teaching it this past summer and hearing it played on my Erard, I’ve decided to learn it myself. It sounds gorgeous on the Erard(the theme is in the 4th and 5th octaves which shows off that wonderful Erard sound), and it’s something that I could use on a concert, and whip up quickly without too much work(my favorite at this stage of my life!).

    I’d be interested to hear what others have to say about this piece, as well as hearing from you about other good pieces at this low intermediate level.

    #83163
    Bonnie Shaljean
    Participant

    I share your enthusiasm for it, Carl – I’ve been a fan of this piece for years, ever since I heard it on an old (now unavailable) recording made in Ireland by Sebastien Lipman. I don’t know why it isn’t played more often.

    One thing, though: Would you really classify it as “low intermediate”? The earlier variations, yes – but it at least sounds as though it gets beyond intermediate level in its later stages. As you say, however, one great thing about themes-&-variations is that you can pick and choose which ones you play.

    How did you discover this piece? I only came across it because I happen to know the niece (also a harpist) of the recording engineer in Limerick who worked on SL’s CD, and she brought it to my attention. So I suppose I found it by accident too.

    The written score seems to be available – so WHY is this gem so under-played? The standards of harp repertoire become familiar pretty fast, so it’s not as though we’re exactly drowning in good new material. (Have to re-define my interpretation of “low intermediate” though… ;-) )

    #83164
    catherine-rogers
    Participant

    A quick search on the Lyon & Healy, Vanderbilt and International Music Service websites showed this piece available at $21.95, $20.00 and $19.00. Do you think there’s any difference in the editions? Carl, from whom did you purchase your copy?

    #83165
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Bonnie- the later variations, and the last one and coda in particular are slightly more difficult than the begining, but as I said, the whole piece sounds really virtuosoic when in fact it is just not that hard. That’s why it’s such a good piece for low intermediate students.

    Cathy-A local harpist was cleaning out her music library and had a brand new copy of this piece she wanted to sell. I was unfamiliar with the piece but looked it over and decided it would be good for my 17 year old boy student. He fell in love with it. As for my own copy, a number of years ago an older woman who had been a professional harpist in Boston asked me to sell one of her harps. When I went to pick it up, we chatted and I told her that I was working on a Tournier piece(I think it was Lolita the Danser) and that I wanted to explore more Tournier. She said to me “I’ll give you all of my Tournier.” She gave me a stack of music almost a foot thick, all Tournier. So I own almost everything Tournier ever wrote. This piece was in there. I don’t think there is likely to be any difference between the three copies you found. Most likely they are all printed in an 8 1/2 X 11 format, which means you’ll probably have to photocopy the whole thing to get it to a larger, more readible format.

    #83166
    unknown-user
    Participant

    A quick search of the net fails to find any recording sample.

    #83167
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Number one- I’m going to have to learn it! Easy or not, I’ve never played the piece except to read through it to check it out for my student. Number two, I’d have to figure out someplace to post it. Maybe David Ice could help me with that. I’ll tell you what though, I’ll start working on it and try to record it on my Erard. That way we kill two birds with one stone.

    #83168
    catherine-rogers
    Participant

    Oh, this is great! I can’t wait to hear it!

    #83169
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Cathy- Don’t hold your breath! I am drowning in work right now and its very difficult for me to find any time at all to practice. But I’ll get started on it and we’ll see. Before I can record it, I have to memorize all 19 pages.

    #83170
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Too me it is ultra-Gothic and gloomy, very Dark Shadows. It might be perfect for an Erard.

    #83171
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    I don’t find it gloomy. It goes into major numerous times during the piece. What I like about it is that Tournier doesn’t use that format of melody-in-the-left-hand-arpeggiated-harmony-in-the-right that he uses so often.

    #83172
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Maybe it was just the recital I went to. He uses a lot of augmented chords or something that I get too much of.

    #83173
    Tacye
    Participant

    I have just bought the music for this – what tempo does it get played at?

    #83174

    I got the music. The problem is I don’t like the theme, it’s so gloomy. I like how he varies it, but I would never want to hear it again. I like his Images much more. And he has a lot of pieces people never play. I find most of his music lays easily in the hand, and once you learn the notes, just practicing enough would seem to bring it up to tempo fine. I guess that’s why his pieces are so often in competitions for high school students.

    #83175
    Bonnie Shaljean
    Participant

    Just to let everybody know that this piece can be freely downloaded in PDF format at:

    http://www.archive.org/details/thmeetvariatio00tour

    There’s a lot of other harp music on there too – if you’re coming in through the main entry page (www.archive.org) and want to browse, type “harp music” in the search box, and restrict the field to “Texts” in the drop-down menu beside it. They’re mostly older things, many of them standard warhorses, but it’s a fun trawl nonetheless, and includes some ensemble music as well. You can also search by name.

    #83176
    cc-chiu
    Member

    I found a recording on Youtube (the soundquality is very bad). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W77F6fIrd0 . Perhaps it’s useful? 🙂

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