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In the early 1960s Max Prick van Wely composed Three improvisations on Peruvian folk music for the left hand alone for the famous Dutch pianist Cor de Groot. Many years later, when we had entered into partnership, I rewrote the first two folk-music arrangements for piano two-handed and combined these. In 1986 this composition was published by Broekmans & Van Poppel. Not available anymore, this is a slightly revised republication.
Pianorama – a pianistic panorama of Europe consists of twelve folk music arrangements from different countries in Europe. The sequence of the parts was determined by the mutual differences in character and nature of the music of the countries concerned. The cycle can therefore best be performed in its totality. However, there is no motivic relationship between the parts, so that these also can be considered as stand-alone compositions.
A second project in collaboration with Prick van Wely concerned a series Valses Caractérisiques: three piano pieces in easy-listening style in which the influence of salon music from the early 20th century is to be felt. Each waltz is preceded by a beautiful litho created specially for this publication by the visual artist Iris de Leeuw. For the less advanced player, fingering and pedalling have been added.
Three parts of the cycle Pianorama for piano duet (AB II-02) were reconstructed in 1995 to form two-handed piano pieces; these were published by XYZ.
It concerns Romanian folk melody (in the style of early Bartók), Spanish wedding dance (in the style of Albeniz) and Evening Mood – a folk song from Bohemia (in the style of Dvorák).
In 1990 Max Prick van Wely wrote 24 preludes for piano in Romantic style. At his suggestion I worked through these and arranged the most beautiful parts (in my opinion): Nos. 1, 24 and 19. In this way the Three Preludes in Romantic Style saw the light of day in the summer of 1991 in close and amicable collaboration. The first Prelude has served as a required piece for Grade exams in Belgium. The pieces are recorded on CD AB I-01.
Armenia is a keyboard transcription of the Suite of popular Armenian tunes, played by Huri Arakelian (shevi) and Mardin Vartazarian (piano) on the record Arménie – Musique Instrumental (OCR 67). After the music was written out by ear, I arranged it freely. In the slow middle section, one hears imitations of Armenian folk music instruments such as the quanun (a cither-like instrument) and the duduk (a bass recorder with a week-dark timbre).
This keyboard arrangement of Bernstein’s ‘Maria’ from the well-known musical West Side Story stands midway between a literal transcription and a free fantasy (paraphrase). First one hears the theme based on the sensual rocking rhythm of the habanera, as given by Bernstein. Quasi-improvising, moving a little further away from the original note image, the theme is then spun around with typical pianistic accompaniment figures. A fragment of this arrangement can be heard under AB I-06, the third music example.
The well-known Poème by Fibich is best known in the arrangement for violin and piano by the famous violinist Jan Kubelik (1880-1940), who played his transcription all over the world. However, the original keyboard piece is rarely heard anymore, possibly because it is only ten bars long. The current arrangement first presents the keyboard piece in its original setting. Then the theme is repeated in a varied way. In a simple way I have tried to give this composition a bit more ‘volume’ and to make it suitable for performance on stage.
The well-known Liszt interpreter Leslie Howard published in the Music Section of The Liszt Society Journal (Volume 41; 2016) some unknown, largely unpublished songs by Franz Liszt, including a composition entitled Göttliche Gedanken, in manuscript kept in the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv in Weimar (GSA-60/ Z12). Playing through the score, I was immediately impressed by the beauty of the music and it all sounded so well on the piano that soon the thought surfaced that the musical material would also come into its own as a keyboard piece. And so this piano arrangement came quite quickly to fruition. After an inital literal transcription, I have allowed myself greater liberties.