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Old 12-20-2008, 10:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Classical Piano Recommendations

I wish to expand my piano-centric classical music library and I’d appreciate any suggestions that you may offer with regard to composers and particular works (perhaps even the best performances/recordings), that coincide with the style of music I like best (hopefully, others here may like the same style and will benefit from this discussion).

I’m drawn to music that highlights instrumental virtuosity—particularly piano (followed by violin and cello). Time period: 17th century Baroque to early 20th century Modern, emphasis on Romantic era. I like music that is passionate and dramatic, often in the heroic style. My favorite composer in this regard, is Franz Liszt, I thoroughly enjoy nearly his entire body of work, especially his 12 Transcendental Etudes*, Hungarian Rhapsodies and piano concertos. In fact, I like every thing about this guy: besides being a paradigm shifting composer and piano virtuoso of the highest order, he lived a long, passionate life, complete with complicated affairs of the heart and heart-wrenching loses. Yet, despite his break-neck concert tours and personal dramas, he seems to have remained a genuinely nice guy who gave a great deal of himself to his friends and the world of music, for free.

After Liszt, I like much of the piano works of Chopin (e.g. Etudes Op.10, No.4 and No. 12), and Beethoven (e.g. Appassionata, Pathetique and Moonlight Sonatas). I don’t really need any suggestions for music from these composers, nor Bach, since I’m pretty familiar with their output.

Here are a sprinkling of other composers/pieces that I like: Brahms Intermezzos (especially Op.118); Mendelssohn (especially Prelude & Fugue Op.35); Prokofieff (especially Piano Sonata 6); Rachmaninov (especially Concerto #2, Piano Suite #2 for 2 Pianos, Etudes-Tableaux), Tchaikovski (Piano Concerto No.1), Scriabin (Etude, Op.8 No.12, Sonata No.5 Op.53), Paderewski (piano concerto). I’m not as familiar with these composers, so other recommendations of their work would be appreciated along with any composers that I have not mentioned.

As a bonus, I’d be even more delighted if you could list music in a similar style that features violin (e.g. Paganini) and/or cello virtuosity.

Thanks, in advance for your recommendations.

* Check out Boris Berezovski’s version of Mazeppa on Youtube…I love that run he does at 1:57 to 2:03.
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Old 12-20-2008, 01:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I play classical piano and I absolutely love listening to piano-centric music. I'll try to help you out and give you some recommendations from my library.

I recommend you check out Georges Cziffra's interpretation of Liszt's works. He is one of my favorite pianists, and he is widely known as the greatest performer of Liszt.

From the Baroque period I would recommend all of Bach's work. The Well Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations, and the Partitas for piano are his piano works that stand out to me. Also check out his Violin Sonatas and Partitas and the Cello Suites. For more Baroque composers I would try Albinoni, specifically his Adagio for Strings in G Minor. It's a wonderful string composition.

From the Classical period, my favorite is obviously Beethoven. You probably have all you need of his work but if you haven't already heard his late string quartets give them a listen because they are some of the most beautiful string compositions ever written. His Violin Sonatas are also great (I have an amazing recording performed by Itzhak Perlman and Vladimir Ashkenazy).
Form more piano works from the classical period try Mozart's piano sonatas. They aren't as dramatic as Beethoven's, in my opinion, but still a wonderful set of pieces. Also try Schuberts piano sonatas and impromptus.

From the Romantic period my favorite is definetly Chopin. His Nocturnes, are some of the most beautiful pieces for the piano ever written. And he has an amazing amount of piano works: Ballades, Scherzos, Poloanaises, Waltzes, Etudes, Preludes, Mazurkas, Piano Concertos. All brilliant.
For some great string compositions from the Romantic period listen to Pablo Sarasate, Mendelssohn's piano trios, and Brahm's sonatas for violin and piano.

From the 20th Century give Debussy a listen. His Preludes, Images, and of course Suite Bergamesque and all great compositions. Erik Satie is another great French composer. His Gnossiennes and Gymnopdies are great works. Ravel also has some interesting piano works. Jean Sibelius is one of my favorite 20th century composers. His string quartets and symphonies are great, he also has a number of great piano compositions. And if your up for really modern music listen to Philip Glass's solo piano album.

Hopefully all that helped guide you to expand your amount of piano musc. If you need help finding anything feel free to PM me.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for your fine suggestions, Manny. Those that I’m not familiar with, I’ll definitely try out. Tell me, as a classical pianist, what are your favorite pieces to play and which do you hope to master in the future?
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Old 12-22-2008, 03:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I love to play Chopin. Particularly the Nocturnes. My favorite Nocturnes that I have played are Op. 72/1, Op. 9/2, Op. 55/2. I also enjoy playing Beethoven's sonatas, though they are quite challenging. I have played Sonata No. 7 in D Major. Right now I am working on Sonata No. 5 in C minor.

There are so many pieces for the piano that I would love to eventually play. So in the long term (after college and such) I hope to master quite a few challenging pieces. I would love to someday play Liszt's Liebestraume No. 3 in A flat. I would also love to play Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor (this is probably my favorite piece of music ever). I would also love to play Beethoven's Sonatas No. 29 - 32.

If I say that I have mastered those by the time I day, I think I can say I would be pretty satisfied with my life.

PS feel free to PM if you want anymore suggestions or need some help finding stuff because I have a pretty extensive classical music library
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Old 12-22-2008, 04:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Philip Glass - Solo Piano
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Old 12-23-2008, 01:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I wish I could play the Piano. I'm struggling with the acoustic guitar lol
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Old 12-23-2008, 01:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I wish I could play the Piano. I'm struggling with the acoustic guitar lol
What did you play in the band you were in?
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Old 12-23-2008, 01:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Voice!
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Old 12-23-2008, 02:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Voice!
Ah. That's what I started with too.
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Old 12-23-2008, 09:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I wish I could play the Piano. I'm struggling with the acoustic guitar lol
Well, I wish I could sing, so we're even.
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