About this work:
“Rondo Refrain” is the tenth of the pieces I selected as my best ten completed short piano pieces which satisfy certain criteria so that together they comprise a set, not just a disparate collection. The 2011 version has numerous small improvements to the score, the playback, and a few in the music itself — plus, more and better fingering numbers and pedal markings. This 2012 update has a minor musical improvement. The playback has been further improved. And now the recording (posted 09/28/12), having been made using a Yamaha AvantGrand N2 digital piano recorded onto my computer via audio cable, has much-improved sound quality.
It is intended for the intermediate sections between the repeated sections of the rondo to be improvised. Or the piece may be played as a non-rondo (no intermediate sections).
That is, in the series ABACA (or more) that comprises the rondo, the pianist performs the composed A (refrain) parts and improvises the B, C, D, etc. intermediate parts. With phrases apt to improvise upon, the refrain engenders anticipation of something significant to come.
Your challenge is, every time you reach the end of A, to improvise an appropriate intermediate section. Included on the score is an optional bridge passage for transitioning from A to your improvised parts, and this may also be placed at the end of your improvised parts for a smooth and natural return to A. If you memorize A, you can mentally prepare the next improvisation while playing A. In your improvised parts you could employ elements from the refrain, or something different or contrasting but compatible. You could prepare your improvisations in advance; to the extent that you do so they will of course not be true improvisations.
Rondo Refrain is in two similar parts — A1 and A2; Part 1 and Part 2 on the score — designed so that it can be played as a stand-alone piece without improvised parts. (It would be too short if there were only one part.) This also provides a choice of A sections for the improviser. If played as a non-rondo, it ends where indicated at measure 44 after the repeat.
The recording is that of the computer playback of the score, thus the “performance” is rather mechanical. All of the pieces in the set sound better when played well, with human feeling and interpretation, by a live performer — the more complex the piece, the more so.
The indicated duration of 2 minutes, 12 seconds is that of the playback, which stops at the end of the transitional passage. Please see the score for more information, especially regarding how it would be played as a non-rondo.
The titles of the pieces in the set are:
1. Mazurka March
3. First Love, in May
4. Hispanic Rhapsody (Excerpt)
5. Hymn of Consolation
7. Spanish Sonatina
8. Variations on a Game
9. Venetian Cadence
10. Rondo Refrain
If they are all played on one occasion, I recommend that they be played in the given order.
To help the pianist interpret the pieces, performance recommendations and options are placed in boxes on each of the scores.