Sunday, 16 November 2014

Walter Carroll: Four Gypsies – Suite of Four Pieces for Pianoforte

Readers will not find any reviews of these four charming miniatures in any musical journals. It is unlikely that they will ever be recorded unless some generous pianist choses to upload a performance onto YouTube. Yet these four short pieces by Manchester-born Walter Carroll are delightful examples of his music which was primarily written to encourage the player to make an ‘imaginative response’ to the music and the accompanying quotaiton. I found this sheet music in the Oxfam Shop in Southampton.
Pianists will know some of Carroll’s more popular pieces such as ‘Sea Idylls’, ‘Forest Fantasies’ and possibly ‘Water Sprites’. Fewer will have heard his fine Piano Sonata which was released on CD in 2002, also published by Forsyths (FS0004)
Unlike much of Carroll’s music, which was published by the Manchester firm of Forsyth’s Four Gypsies was issued by Riccordi of London in 1937.  

The four movements are each prefaced by a short quotation:-
Melissa (Graceful)
Nimble her feet as the mountain hind
And darker her hair than night. (Old Song)
Alanza (Serious)
With pensive mien and bronzèd face
He tells the story of his race. (Anon)
Lorinda (Joyous)
Born by the sea she laughed and danced
A radiant vision on the silver sand. (Anon)
Montago (Sparking)
Your eyes are black and lovely,
But wild as those of a stag. (Montago)

The musical content of these four pieces is hardly profound. The difficulty level is probably a good Grade 3. However, the best piece (in my opinion) is the final ‘Montago’ which is written as a tarantella. This needs nimble fingering to play with the recommended direction and I must admit to finding it difficult to neatly execute.  It has been my experience of Walter Carroll’s music that there is much to trip up the over-confident player who deems these piece too simplistic or trivial. 

1 comment:

55stars said...

The "Lorinda" piece featured on a Grade 2 piano exam around 1991-1993, I believe for the Associated Board of Music. I have no memory of the piece itself, but the anonymous couplet has stayed with me (and is in fact how I found your site through Google).