Sonic potpourri
of helpsian concepts

3/4 — Cantabile & Nuance

Robert Helps, fully accepting his position as grand heresiarch in the opinion of most piano “pedagogues,” didn’t technically believe in legato in the form of some gluey finger motion. As an effect, he felt the secret was rather in the performer’s ear and sense of large-scale direction.
Some of the most magical cantabile moments in Helps’ playing arise from sharply defined dynamic levels he creates, each with infinitesimal nuances. Who would believe that this gorgeously shaped melody — in his transcription of John Ireland’s song Love is a Sickness Full of Woes — was played almost exclusively by the pianist’s thumb!?!