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Piano Music

Piano Music
December 22, 2009, 01:04:45 PM
I've been listenning to and playing a lot of Chopin lately, namely his Nocturnes, and Mazurkas if i'm in the mood for something a little more bouncy. Not much is mentioned on this site about piano music as the focus is on orchestral music or classical guitar, I assume this is mostly down to the links with metal.
But I believe the piano is able to communicate more moods than any other instrument. The respective works of Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin and Lizst for solo piano show that. I have always preferred the sound of a piano over a full orchestra on a basic level (maybe because I play it), but I feel that a good piano sonata can go just as far as an orchestra in its complexity and exploration.

(I'm not that clued up on technical language so you'll have to forgive me if my point seems trivial)

Re: Piano Music
December 22, 2009, 09:33:15 PM
Liszt, to me, always came across as more of a showman than a songwriter.

My personal favorites will always be:

Scarlatti (sonatas for harpsichord)
Debussy (preludes)
Bach (Well Tempered Klavier)

Three very different styles, but each a master of his own domain.

Re: Piano Music
December 22, 2009, 10:06:37 PM
I get what you're saying, but I'm not too sure what you want to discuss here. I'll just say that because most composers were also gifted pianists, many of their compositions were written in part for the piano first and then orchestrated. I definitely agree that piano music can be just as effective as string quartets, lieder or symphonies, that has a lot to do with the fact that it's much easier to write true polyphonic music for a keyboard instrument than for say a cello.

I'll profit of the opportunity to post one of my favorite disc:

Stravinsky - Petrushka / Prokofiev - Sonata for Piano No. 7 / Webern - Variations for Piano, Op. 27 / Boulez - Sonata for Piano No. 2 (Pollini / DG / 1972, 1978, V0)

A lot more modern than most of you are used to I think, but if anything, this is an excellent introduction to XXth century music. From the dazzling virtuosity and breadth of the Stravinsky, through the cold, brooding, mechanical universe of Prokofiev, to Webern's expressive austerity and to the final Boulez sonata, a self-avowed purely intellectual work that somehow manages to sound musical enough (to my ears at least, if you don't like it just skip it, I'd hate to see people missing out on the first three works because of it).

And anyone that doesn't believe in Liszt's composing abilities should give his sonata in B minor a try. I couldn't describe just how much I like this work, Argerich's recording of the work is excellent.

Re: Piano Music
December 22, 2009, 11:13:04 PM

Re: Piano Music
December 23, 2009, 08:46:27 AM
I've tried Scarlatti's Harpsichord Sonatas in the past, they are good but they become overbearing after a while, they lack the dynamic range that a grand piano can have. Bach's Well temptered Klavier is also good, but i find myself drawn to the 19th century more. This may because some of it i find frustratingly hard to play, and you can add more expression in with the likes of Beethoven.

I think Lizst managed to find a good balance between showmanship and truly great composition, but I guess that is a matter of opinion.

I am simply trying to make the point that I find the grand piano the most expressive instrument in western music. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of orchestral works, all the usual greats, but I get a deeper satisfaction from listenning to solo piano.

Re: Piano Music
December 23, 2009, 01:24:23 PM
I"am not a piano music aficionado but Beethoven sonatas, Bach's Well tempered Claviers 1 and 2, Goldberg variations I believe are the greatest piano musical works ever. I might look an ass for plugging my own youtube page but here's the 5th goldberg variation which I recorded with two guitar parts.


I hope you enjoy it.

Re: Piano Music
December 27, 2009, 07:34:47 PM
I can see why someone attracted to 19th century music wouldn't like Baroque stuff, because dynamics didn't really play a big part in keyboard music until the Romantic period.

But of course, most of that has to do with the fact that the harpsichord and organ (instruments with little dynamic range) were the keyboard instruments of choice for most composers pre-Mozart.

Baroque composers like Bach and Scarlatti are better known for creating dynamics from contrasting passages/key signatures rather than using different volumes to create emphasis like Debussy, Chopin, Schubert, et al.

I like all of the above styles, but if you asked me to pick one composer from the lot, I'd go for Scarlatti without hesitation.

Almost all of his 300+ keyboard sonatas are in basic, binary form (A B A B A), yet there is so much going on melodically in those pieces that I can listen to them every day and never grow tired.

Re: Piano Music
January 09, 2010, 12:12:45 PM
Can you recommend some recordings by Scarlatti and, if you've bought them online, post a link to them? There was nothing wrong with your post but that might help new listeners with the music.

Re: Piano Music
January 10, 2010, 06:48:38 AM
Just search for Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas on amazon, there are some pretty good deals on there. There are loads of compilations with his sonatas on, they are all around 2 minutes long. You can't go wrong really.

Re: Piano Music
April 30, 2010, 06:07:22 AM
THIS SEARCH brought up plenty.

On the first few listens: these pieces sound very dense and busy, and persist with an irritating air of tedium (this comes next, and now I've got to play it, and so on).  The execution almost belies the structure, or at least the latter stifles the former.

The harpsichord's relative lack of emotivity may be partially to blame.  I also get the impression that musicians will generally appreciate the mechanical side of these pieces while shrugging off the lack of sincerity - a perception I've known many to express in summary of Liszt and Paganini.

These pieces are interesting but lack direction, sincerity, and that certain "oomph" the right combination of the two result in.

EDIT: With regards to the above,  I'd be interested to consider the thoughts of a few seasoned classical enthusiasts since I (and I'm guessing others) are wading in shallow waters but haven't yet dove in, so to speak.  If there's nothing more to say then obviously don't.