Favorite Icon, Full size
Songbook Review: Portrait of a Pianist
David Hicken
Cover image of the songbook Portrait of a Pianist by David Hicken
Portrait of a Pianist
David Hicken
2017 / Enchanting Music
80 pages / 12 songs
Review by Kathy Parsons
Portrait of a Pianist is the companion sheet music book for David Hicken’s 2017 solo piano album by the same name. All twelve pieces from the recording are included, transcribed by the composer. I’ve played the whole book twice (and a few favorites more than that) and it’s a blast to play, but be forewarned that this is not easy music. Less-advanced pianists should be able to master most of the slower pieces, but there is a lot going on in this music, some of which might not be obvious when listening to the recording. The faster pieces have the same energy that most of the music on The Art of Piano (one of two albums Hicken released in 2016) has, but I think this album and songbook more clearly reflect Hicken’s love for the music of JS Bach and demonstrate his extensive experience as an organist. The thought occurred to me when I was playing the faster pieces that they are probably quite close to what Bach would be composing if he was alive today. The slower pieces are very elegant and beautiful, expressing a variety of emotions. If you love Hicken’s earlier sheet music books (Godess, Angels, Faeries), the slower pieces are somewhat similar, but Hicken’s composing style has been evolving steadily over the past ten years.

The book itself is in the 8 1/2”x11” format and is spiral-bound. Most of the pieces are very clear and easy to read. A few have short passages where the notes are a little too close together and it’s hard to see where the staff begins and ends. All but one of the pieces have at least one key signature change and some have several. Fingering is indicated in some of the trickier passages, and Hicken included metronome settings. There are a few reaches of more than an octave, but not many. I love the variety of the musical styles in this book, and I think it might be my favorite songbook this year. So far, my favorites to play are “Valhalla,” “Through the Veil,” “Espionage,” “Fountains Abbey” and “A King’s Ransom.” The books are available as printed books or PDF downloads from www.DavidHicken.com. Individual pieces can also be downloaded from Hicken’s site. Very highly recommended!!!

The titles, the keys they are in, and the number of pages are:

Repercussions - Key of G minor (2 flats)/ Bb minor (5 flats)/ Ab minor (7 flats)/ A minor (0 sharps or flats)/ C minor (3 flats) - 10 pages
Magdalena - Key of Eb (3 flats)/ F (1 flats) - 6 pages
Valhalla - Key of E minor (1 sharp)/ F minor (4 flats)/ F# minor (3 sharps) - 7 pages
Delia - Key of Eb (3 flats)/ C (0 sharps or flats)/ A (3 sharps) - 7 pages
Mendacium - Key of C minor (3 flats)/ Db (5 flats)/ D minor (1 flat)/ G minor (2 flats) - 8 pages
Canon in D Meets Ode to Joy - Key of D (2 sharps)/ Eb (3 flats) - 5 pages
Through the Veil - Key of G minor (2 flats)/ C minor (3 flats)/ A (3 sharps)/ F# (6 sharps)/ F# minor (3 sharps) - 5 pages
Espionage - Key of C minor (3 flats)/ G (1 sharp)/ G minor (2 flats)/ D minor (1 flat) - 7 pages
Fountains Abbey - Key of F minor (4 flats) - 4 pages
Narges - Key of F# minor (3 sharps)/ D minor (1 flats) - 4 pages
A King’s Ransom - Key of E minor (1 sharp)/ G minor (2 flats)/ C minor (3 flats)/ C# minor (4 sharps) - 11 pages
Un Sospiro - Key of Eb minor (6 flats)/ C minor (3 flats) - 5 pages

March 18, 2017
More reviews of David Hicken songbooks