José Ferrer is well known to teachers so this new edition of 24 Estudios will be welcome. All too often, in order to challenge their intermediate students, teachers turn to Carulli, Sor, Guiliani & Carcassi and whilst these may be new to the student they certainly are not to the teacher. It was time for some ‘fresh blood’ material to emerge and this may be just it.
These three collections labelled as 1a, 2a and 4a are not progressive in difficulty. There are challenging and easier pieces in all three collections. Generally, the tone is up-lifting and ‘smiley’ with sharp major keys proliferating.
Collection 1a has legato tunes with full chord accompaniments, cross-string RH exercises and ligados, thumb apoyando opportunities, and rapid execution of passages of thirds. The most curious of them is number three, marked “De mano izquierda sola” and students will enjoy thumping their fingers onto chords to create sounds. This is the sort of novelty piece a student could enter in a school music competition and know the adjudicators would be wowed by it.
Collection 2a has more of the same techniques, and the fifth piece is notable for having inner string slurs underneath a sustained melody above. ‘Andante Grave‘ is the indication for the sixth piece, in E major, which turns out to be a jolly piece. I found it quite difficult to make it sound at all dark. Number eight offers us the first voyage into flat keys and the off-beat 6/8 Bb tune is quite an ear-worm.
Collection 4a starts to put the Estudio (Study/Etude) as a hollow device of technical merit, aside and brings some musical depth to the anthology. I really enjoyed the eighth and ninth of these – but for those wanting more technical challenges there are double slurred Estudios, quick position changes and even one Estudio which sounds as if it is a precursor to Villa-Lobos’ Etude No.2.
This book comes with exemplary fingering and layout, as has become the norm for Schott editions; I do not hesitate to recommend this welcome addition to the repertoire.