The pieces contained in Strangford Sketchbook are of moderate difficulty, around grades 6-7 standard.

 

Still Light on the Lough

This piece is a study in atmospheric sound.  It seeks to create the light shimmering on the surface of the water and the calm and tranquil vista of the sun's rays streaming out of the clouds onto the lough.  Good control of the sextuplets in the right hand is required throughout the piece, and careful and expressive pacing of the rubato.

 

The Harp at Mount Stewart

It is important to recreate the sound of the harp through careful treatment of the arpeggiated chords and the freely flowing left hand semi-quavers.  The melody needs sensitive use of rubato, and the final section from bar 54 requires careful listening to create a mood of magical stillness.

 

Sandpipers at Ballyquintin

This small toccata is much easier to play and to memorise than it looks.  It requires very neat and controlled fingerwork.  Bars 20-31 need to be approached with great delicacy to create the feel and the sound of the movement of the water.  The simultaneous semi-quaver figuration in both hands contains cross patterns which develop independent finger control.

 

The Portaferry Windmill 

The atmospheric opening creating the wind-swept vista needs very steady control of the right hand triplets and requires accurate counting skills.  The left hand figure at bar 11, which represents the turning of the sails, needs very steady treatment, balanced against the right hand melody.

 

The Ferry Crossing 

This very programmatic journey requires very graphic interpretations and mood changes, encompassing a wide range of subjects from the ship's engine to floating jelly fish and diving terns.  The left hand repetitive quavers and triplet quavers need very steady treatment, and counting challenges abound.

 

Castle Ward - Temple Dancer in Blue 

This piece, inspired by Satie's Third Gymnopedie, needs to be treated in a similarly sensitive style.  Although the right hand is carefully notated, a feeling of improvisation needs to be cultivated, along with a hint of swing rhythm.  The metronome marking is for the underlying tempo, which needs to be treated flexibly throughout. 

 

Castle Ward - Lady Anne's Fancie 

Careful and delicate ornamentation is essential in this re-interpretation of 16th century keyboard music.  Dynamics and pacing are at the discretion of the performer and will need to be considered to create the essentially expressive and fanciful quality of the style.  As with Temple Dancer in Blue, the underlying tempo needs to be treated flexibly throughout.

  

Audley's Castle 

Whilst this piece is very straightforward interpretively, the challenges lie in bringing out the left hand melody, whilst accurately mastering the falling sixth quaver figure in the right hand.