Heather Hammond’s compositions are amongst those most frequently chosen by current grade examination candidates. Her outstanding ability as a composer of educational music has been widely recognised.
The newly released ‘Ballads without words’ is an extraordinarily generous collection of some 19 pieces in a popular idiom. What sets this music apart as being special and nutritious is its detailed craftsmanship and immediacy. There is a huge range of characterisation, variety of key and some excellent challenges that will be extremely useful to pianists around the grade 4-6 level (intermediate).
Indeed, teachers will warm to the way in which Hammond is able to marry contrasted but essential technical challenges for emerging players with vibrant musical interest in popular styles. This can be seen immediately in ‘Night of the Vampires’, an exciting character piece which is also an excellent etude for rotary movement. Left hand cross-over movement and gentle flexibility is encouraged in particular by ‘Echoes from the mountains’ whilst there are numerous rhythmic challenges (syncopation, duplets versus triplets and waltz rhythms) in pieces as diverse as ‘Always by your side’, ‘Hand in Hand’ and ‘Once upon a Frozen winter’.
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