Review: My Lyrical Notebook (Angeline Bell)

Just occasionally, a book comes along which: (a) I look forward to playing as much as I look forward to using it in my teaching; and (b) I know I’ll use for many years to come. Angeline Bell’s My Lyrical Notebook is one of those books.

My Lyrical Notebook is Angeline’s first collection to be published by Editions Musica Ferrum, and what a place this is to start from! The book contains 20 piano solos aimed at players around Grade 3-6 standard, the emphasis being on enjoying the music, as much as working on the technical challenges it presents. Most pieces are a couple of pages long, some stretching to three pages.

Hardy Close by Angeline Bell
Anticipation by Angeline Bell, from My Lyrical Notebook

What I really enjoyed about Angeline’s writing, is her ability to really capture and create an evocative atmosphere. Each piece has its own character, all of which match the title so well. So often, there is a disconnect between title and music, but I feel that in this collection, this is something Angeline has really thought about.

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I enjoyed all the pieces, but there were some standout ones for me. ‘Crystal Dew’ with its bright, rippling semiquaver figures requires a real delicacy of touch, yet captures its ‘sparkling’ tempo direction so well. Over the page, ‘The Coral Reef’, with its beautiful flowing quavers, is a reminder that much can be achieved with the fewest number of notes.

South Downs by Angeline Bell

‘Somerset Clouds’ is another evocative solo, again requiring a delicate touch and careful pedalling to maintain the sense of ‘floating’ throughout, particularly at the end, where the chords ascend to the heavens. ‘The End of Summer’ at just a page long, is the shortest piece in the book, but again, beautifully crafted. If I had to choose a favourite piece in My Lyrical Notebook, then I felt that ‘Echoes’ was something really special.

Shifting Shadows by Angeline Bell, from My Lyrical Notebook

Overall, My Lyrical Notebook is a beautiful collection of piano pieces. Evocative, atmospheric and characterful, with a real attention to detail in capturing the mood of each piece. The pieces in My Lyrical Notebook may look straightforward, but they all require a sensitive touch, with real attention paid to how the atmosphere is created, particularly with the use of the pedal. As ever, the book is beautifully presented and printed, with stunning cover artwork.

These are as much pieces to play as they are to teach, and I’m sure you will enjoy playing them as much as I did.

You can find links to listen to the pieces here.

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My Lyrical Notebook by Angeline Bell, is published by Editions Musica Ferrum, ISMN 9790708147862, RRP £13.00.

I was sent a review copy of this book free of charge; however, this review is my honest opinion as a teacher. You can find my Reviews Policy here.

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