What piano music should I play next?
March 1, 2012 9:42 PM   Subscribe

What piano music should I play next?

Help! I've been out of formal piano classes for a long time, and am stuck in a rut with my repertoire. I'm classically trained and sightread well; I also have perfect pitch, so I pick up pop music by ear pretty quickly and rarely need sheet music unless the piano parts are interesting enough. At my best, I was playing stuff like this and this (though not nearly as well as those videos might lead you to think!) These days I'm no longer as good as I was, and I also have RSI. But while my dexterity has suffered, my sense of tone and weight hasn't, and I'm still OK at making beautiful music sound beautiful, even if it's not especially challenging (though ideally it would be--I'm willing to push myself). I'm a sucker for lovely adagio movements or nocturne-like music (e.g. I'll still play Ravel, Chopin, Beethoven, Rachmaninov), but I've recently played some Keith Jarrett and Michael Nyman, and even some Final Fantasy. I also love playing warm jazz melodies of the sort you might hear in a hotel lobby (e.g. Blue Moon, Summertime, etc) but I'm not jazz-trained so I'd want good transcriptions. In general, my taste is fairly accurately represented by everything I've linked in this post, but I'll try anything once.

So, O hive mind of Greatness: what should I try next, classical or otherwise? Hugs and bonus points for sheet music links, but YouTube will do in a pinch :)
posted by idlethink to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I was always a big fan of Burgmüller. He has some lovely soft pieces though my favorites were the poundy ones.
posted by ruhroh at 10:03 PM on March 1, 2012

stuff by jordan rudess
posted by 3FLryan at 10:10 PM on March 1, 2012

Two beautiful pieces I discovered today (and immediately looked up the sheet music to) that I think you would enjoy learning to play, based on your skill level and musical tastes (both of which are AWESOME, by the way!):

John Field - Nocturne No. 12 in G Major
Sheet music here.

Enrique Granados - Allegro de concierto, Op. 46
Sheet music here.
posted by matticulate at 10:13 PM on March 1, 2012

How do you feel about Philip Glass? I love the tone and weight of his Solo Piano.

Your Ravel link also made me think of Saint-Saens. I'm looking around on Youtube but not finding arrangements for solo piano, but I know they're out there. (I have a lovely one from Samson & Delilah in an intermediate piano book.) If you like him, I'm sure you can find sheet music pretty easily. (The Swan might be too easy for you.)
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:13 PM on March 1, 2012

Another suggestion:

Nikolai Kapustin writes virtuosic jazz-influenced classical music for piano. Here's a recording of the first of his Eight Concert Etudes, Op. 40.
posted by matticulate at 10:23 PM on March 1, 2012

What about some Debussy? The prelude to his Suite Bergamasque is gorgeous. The score is available on IMSLP.
posted by costanza at 10:35 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might like the Piano Guys' Jon Schmidt and his incredibly joyous 'All of Me' (sheet music for purchase, but they're upstarts, and definitely worth $3). Wait for the energetic arm bashing at ~2:20!
posted by starcrust at 10:38 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

My piano-playing, classical music nerd partner recommends Scriabin's piano sonata no. 4. He says:

"I'm going to be very biased towards things I've played because I love them but for an interesting progression/digression from the Chopin/Schubert and early Rach type pieces, the 4th Sonata is hard to beat. It's not crazy-Scriabin either so there's plenty of romantic lines and melodies to grab on to but they're a bit more fragmented by comparison and you'll be thinking 7ths and 9ths are more natural than octaves by the end of it. The entire sonata is short and is really one big ABA steadily building up to an ecstatic ending but don't let the length fool you. The first movement isn't too challenging for the fingers but requires a lot of nuance. The second movement is presitissimo volando and demands a lot more technique (and just as much nuance). High level descriptions aside, it's the most rewarding piece I've ever played.

"Close second: Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau in Eb minor, Op. 39 No. 5, played here by Evgeny Kissin. Sumptuous harmonies, melodies that aren't immediately likable but are unforgettable once you get to know them, and a wall of sound. Not as hard as it might seem because most of the notes fit under the fingers fairly well but like all Rach, slightly easier for those who are well endowed with finger length."
posted by peripathetic at 10:49 PM on March 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

Some answers to this recent askmefi question might be relevant: What one single piano piece should I learn?

And I still like my answer in that thread:

"Albeniz: Iberia

If there is one piece to master, this is it. It has everything. Passion. Subtlety. Melancholy. Drama. Admittedly, I'm obsessed with it. I've bought every performance I can get my hands on. And it's astonishing just how much room for interpretation there is. It seems inexhaustible. It encompasses so much. If you learn this, you will an endless supply of experiences.

My personal favorite interpretation, is by Eduardo Fernandez. That clip is just of Evocacion, and unfortunately YT doesn't have the full Iberia, but look it up, you won't regret it. The performance by Alicia de Laroccha is often cited as authoritative and is fantastic (first link)."
posted by VikingSword at 11:50 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about Art Tatum (here is my brother playing a transcription of Sweet Lorraine)?
posted by plinth at 3:27 AM on March 2, 2012

How about Yann Tiersen?

Another Philip Glass
posted by foxhat10 at 4:41 AM on March 2, 2012

For something slightly off the beaten track, you might give a listen to Darius Milhaud's Saudades do Brasil (sheet music available for free download!) and see if it's anything that intrigues you. It takes a foundation of very laid-back, loungy sort of Latin jazz and lays over a good deal of tension and dissonance to keep things interesting. They're all quite short, which helps when you're trying to juggle music practice and a busy adult life.
posted by drlith at 5:32 AM on March 2, 2012

For my own reference, I'm marking as 'best' the ones with sheet music links, but all the recommendations here have been wonderful!

yes to Philip Glass, Yann Tiersen, Jon Schmidt, Art Tatum. Any ideas for where I might find sheet music? I'd love more recommendations of this sort of music i.e. on the jazzy/contemporary side, less technically taxing but lovely, to rest my wrists and mind between the Rachmaninov Etude-Tableaus and the Granados :)

@VikingSword, thank you for the Albeniz recommendation: I've played a piano arrangement of his Cordóba and absolutely loved it, so I absolutely will try Iberia.

@drlith: I've never heard of Darius Milhaud, and I'm so glad I have now!

@matticulate: thank you for the wonderful recommendations! they're going to be at the outer limits of my (really not so awesome) abilities, but I'm excited to try them -- particularly Kapustin, of whom I've never heard.
posted by idlethink at 6:26 AM on March 2, 2012

How about Dario Marianelli's piano reduction to the film "Pride & Prejudice." It isn't terribly difficult, there are several lovely adagio sections, and the more lively ones remind me of Glass and Tiersen. It's a lot of fun, in my opinion.
posted by jph at 8:39 AM on March 2, 2012

There also a wonderful piano arrangement of Piazzola's Milonga del Angel in the RCM grade 8 book.

I only learned about this about a year ago, but on the IMSLP (the Petrucci Music Library) you can find tons and tons of scores free for download. It only works for pieces that are in the public domain, which means 100 years old, I think, so many of the suggestions here might not be in there. But for future reference, it's there.
posted by costanza at 10:35 AM on March 2, 2012

Fauré's Sicilienne is a really lovely piece, though it might be on the easier side for you. The piano solo transcription can be found here.
posted by of strange foe at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2012

« Older Shelter porn: it's not working for me any more.   |   I need more! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.