Classical Music and Acoustic Music Wanted!
September 4, 2020 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for recommendations for beautiful piano/violin/viola/cello music. I like really "gentle" sounding music. More "tinkling" sounds and not abrupt. I know nothing about classical music at all. I am also looking for singer/songwriter and/or acoustic songs with really really beautiful singing.
posted by bookworm4125 to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Solo pianist George Maurer is very nice -- which makes sense, because he is a Minnesotan. :7)

Lots of his stuff is here:
posted by wenestvedt at 2:24 PM on September 4, 2020

My usual recommendation for beautiful piano music is Ludovico Einaudi. His Le Onde (YouTube link) album is my go-to, but the more recent Seven Days Walking (Wikipedia link, it's readily available on Spotify etc) is also a favourite.
posted by sailoreagle at 2:35 PM on September 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

Chopin and Liszt are my favorite piano composers. They’re both maybe a little more... busy than you’re looking for, but they both have softer sides. Try Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude or Lizst’s Consolation #3. Maybe also Debussy’s Claire de Lune. And on the topic of moonlight, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:54 PM on September 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Vivaldi's harpsichord & cello concertos, and Bach's cello suites. Also look into Baroque music on "period" instruments, it's generally slower/tuned softer than modern orchestra (less brassy /shrill).
posted by winesong at 3:08 PM on September 4, 2020

My recommendation is Debussy, both piano and orchestral. His work tends to be very dreamy and lilting, and the piano stuff in particular will give you the "tinkling" sounds!
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 4:15 PM on September 4, 2020

For classical music, I think you are looking for Sonatas. A Sonata is essentially a piece of music featuring one instrument, possibly with an accompaniment. See, for example, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata noted above, or this Glinka Viola Sonata.

Generally, Concertos are a featured instrument, with a full orchestra behind it. Another Beethoven example, is his Piano Concerto Number 5. Its busier, generally, than a sonata. Here's a different example, the first movement from a Concerto for Harmonica.

If violins, and violas, and the like are your thing, look at quartets. For example, here is Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Autumn. No muss, no fuss, just strings.

There is a LOT of classical music out there. For example, searching for Violin Sonata on Spotify brings up an unending list of songs, from Beethoven and Bach, to Tartini and Lopin (neither of whom I have heard of, but... there they are!) Tracks are released all the time, from newly composed music, to remastered classics. I hope you find some music you really love!
posted by China Grover at 5:42 PM on September 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Tinkling ethereal loveliness: Aquarium, from the Carnival of the Animals, by the composer Saint-Saens.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:02 PM on September 4, 2020

Hello, you have described my workday music. Here are some of my favorite contemporary musicians/composers and albums. My top 3 4 5 are starred; start with those. I have to walk away from the computer now or I will be here all night.


*Alexandra Streliski. Today, for the entire workday, I listened to her two albums Inscape and Pianoscope.
Frederico Albanese
Matteo Myderwyk
Gabriela Parra (especially Suite of Dreams)
Dustin O'Halloran (especially We Move Lightly but really everything)
Sophie Hutchings
*Heinali records a lot of electronic music, but also has piano singles and an album (Air). I particularly love his song Sway, Sway.
Gabriel Parker's album Fractions
*James Heather's album Stories from Far Away on Piano
If you have Spotify, check out the playlist 88 Keys for more artists to explore.


These suggestions are a little moodier than what you described, but not dissonant.
*Chelsea McGough (cello)
Zoe Keating (cello)
Matthew Schoening's solo album Motif (more cello, live looping)
Julia Kent

All of the above
*Dardust's album Slow Is (piano and string quartet)
Poppy Ackroyd
Phillip Glass's soundtrack for The Hours (very very very gently minimalist)
posted by esoterrica at 6:19 PM on September 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I bet you would like Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel
posted by charmedimsure at 7:21 PM on September 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Or: Max Richter’s On The Nature Of Daylight (the first piece in this Tiny Desk Concert.
posted by charmedimsure at 7:24 PM on September 4, 2020

For gentle acoustic music, you might also look into the harp. It's very difficult to play the harp abruptly! I love in particular the harp recordings of Welsh scholar Robin Huw Rowen. Other harpists in the Celtic tradition might do as well, such as Carol Thompson. For classical harp, I recently discovered the sonatas for harp and violin of Louis Spohr, which he wrote to play with his harpist wife.

For straight classical music that's gentle and beautiful, I love Archangelo Corelli. My absolute fave recording of his music is on youtube, of the 'Church Sonatas' by the group The London Baroque. So beautiful! But anything of his will have similar characteristics.

Bach himself wrote some sublime calm music for strings. His Cello Suites are popular. Also, unlike much of his organ music, his Trio Sonatas for organ are not abrupt or melodramatic.

Another composer to check out is Gabriel Fauré. He wrote both solo piano music and chamber music for piano and strings. His most celebrated piece of chamber music is his first Piano Quartet. But his later work might be more like what you're looking for -- more lyrical and less dramatic. Try the 2nd Piano Quintet. For solo piano his Nocturnes are very calm and beautiful.

As China Grover says, there is a lot of classical music recorded -- and youtube to explore it for free. Much of it may sound too 'dramatic' for you at first, but reveal its serenity as you become more familiar with it. You could just search for "Piano Trio" or "Piano Quartet" and survey some to see what appeals to you. An example of something that might sound much too abrupt at first but is actually more calm than it appears is the first Piano Trio of Schubert.

For beautiful voice with an acoustic band, I like Irish singer Karen Casey.
posted by bertran at 7:30 PM on September 4, 2020

Oh, for voice and acoustic band you might try Fado music of Portugal. The Portuguese Guitar that's used in Fado is the most tinkling instrument there is! Might be too on the emotional side for you, but if you like that sampler, the two contemporary Fado singers to seek out are Mariza and Ana Moura, both with very beautiful voices, in very different ways.
posted by bertran at 7:41 PM on September 4, 2020

Two more to try, both on the melancholy side but just ravishingly beautiful and chill:

The Fantasias of Henry Purcell.

The Pièces de Violes of François Couperin.
posted by bertran at 7:57 PM on September 4, 2020

Not classical, but the first thing I thought of was Secret Garden (SLYT, full album), a Norwegian/English duo who won the 1995 Eurovision contest. They produce wonderfully calming music, piano/violin with orchestra and occasional voice and chorus.
posted by lhauser at 8:14 PM on September 4, 2020

Georgs Pelecis's Concertino Bianco is very tinkly and gentle.

I think of Grieg's Lyric Pieces as in the same constellation as Debussey and some of Liszt's piano pieces.
posted by trig at 12:11 AM on September 5, 2020

Ravel's Pavane seems like a safe bet here.
posted by saladin at 4:47 AM on September 5, 2020

You may enjoy the cello of Jami Sieber, specifically the album Hidden Sky. Here is the first song Maenam.

The music inspired by the musician spending time playing music with elephants who are a part of the Thai Elephant Orchestra, and was used in the video game Braid.
posted by past unusual at 9:20 AM on September 5, 2020

chopin's nocturnes are an excellent source of beautiful tinkling piano -- though watch out for the not-infrequently-interspersed bombastic/triumphal bits.
op. 9, no 1 and no 2 are pretty consistently ethereally beautiful, as are op 72, no. 1, and nocturne in c# min. i think the middle passage of his funeral march is among the most beautiful music, but much of that may depend on it being sandwiched between repetitions of the grave/triumphal passage, with the theme of which you likely are already familiar.

you asked about classical, but in jazz, almost anything by bill evans ought to fit your beautiful and gentle-sounding criteria (there is some abruptness with the block chords here and there). much of his work is in trio, though there are more than a few solo recordings.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:46 AM on September 5, 2020

The Chopin Noct 20 arr. for violin

Meditation from Thais

Ave Marias

posted by NorthernLite at 2:26 PM on September 5, 2020

For classical my favorite is Mozart, you might try some of his piano concertos. I also have a CD of his flute quartets that is perfect Sunday morning music
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:33 PM on September 5, 2020

Might I recommend: Rag Bhimpalasi with Hariprasad Charurasia on flute and Fazal Quareshi on Tabla. Induces full-on chill out. Highly recommended.
posted by kaymac at 7:21 AM on September 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

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