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Songbook Review: Five in E
Garreth Brooke
Cover image of the songbook Five in E by Garreth Brooke
Five in E
Garreth Brooke
2022 / Garreth Brooke
16 pages / 5 songs
Review by Kathy Parsons
As its title states, the Five in E solo piano songbook is a collection of five original pieces by Garreth Brooke (also known as Garreth Broke) composed in the key of E major. A British/German composer who is also a piano teacher in Frankfurt, the music was composed in the course of preparing a series of pieces by JS Bach for a series of concerts and as an entry for a pianist's diploma. Quoting Brooke: "Part of the programme was the 6th French Suite by J.S. Bach: 8 short, dense Baroque dances in E major to which either I gave my total attention or I stumbled. I stumbled a lot. Stumbling often has its upsides though, one of which is that I often found myself improvising around Bach’s ideas. Both 'Dawn' and 'Dusk' in this collection have direct links to the Bach, whether melodic or harmonic, and you can also find subtler connections in 'Du bist mîn, ich bin dîn.' The sheer variety of material Bach generates in and around E major is extraordinary and the idea of creating a collection of pieces in E major increasingly struck me as an interesting challenge." The final result of that project is equally interesting and fun to play, and Brooke calls it "the warmest collection I've ever created and I love playing it." I had the pleasure of proof-reading the sheet music before it went to print, and thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Keeping it in the "family," the front and back covers of the songbook feature artwork by Anna Salzmann, Brooke's partner. The scores are printed on a beautiful thick cream paper and the binding is stapled. The sheet music is well-spaced and easy to read with phrasing, pedal markings, and fingering where it is appropriate, making this very suitable teaching material for advancing students of any age. A couple of the pieces have chords with a reach of a tenth, but there are suggested alternatives where suitable. None of the five pieces is very difficult, and I would place them at an upper-intermediate/ early-advanced playing level. More advanced pianists will enjoy the beautiful, expressive quality of the music. The book also includes a fascinating one-page description written by Brooke of how the music was inspired and came to be. This is an exceptional songbook and I highly recommend it!

A companion recording of Five in E will be available in early May 2022. The songbook is available to order on Bandcamp.

The titles of the five pieces (all are in the key of E - 4 sharps) and the number of pages are:

Dawn - 2 pages
Du bist mîn, ich bin dîn - 2 pages
Riverlight - 2 pages
Suspire - 4 pages
Dusk - 2 pages
April 27, 2022
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