Can you recommend some piano music?
December 16, 2007 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Recently I've realized that I enjoy listening to piano music, but I'm not really familiar with it. Can you recommend CDs/compilations/pieces that I might like?

My school has a lounge with a piano in it where students go and play whenever they feel like it, and I love to sit in there and listen and relax if I have a few minutes between classes. It's so soothing. I'd like to replicate it at home.

I don't have much of a knowledge of classical or otherwise instrumental music. I think I'm talking mostly about slower stuff - ballads or what have you, something I can listen to when I want to unwind.

Sorry if this is a bit vague/unclear. Any suggestions?
posted by Quidam to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
We Get Requests by the Oscar Peterson Trio is an easy-to-listen-to jazz standards record that may not be terribly experimental but is very pleasing background music.

Another jazz piano album I thoroughly enjoy is Waltz for Debby by Bill Evans. When paired with its companion piece, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, you've got a lovely two hours. They're a bit more challenging - Evans improvises and works in and out of the original melodies and sometimes seems to lose the plot for a few moments at a time - but they're more rewarding for the effort.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:10 AM on December 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Erik Satie, will probably be mentioned several times over. Start anywhere.
posted by lovejones at 10:19 AM on December 16, 2007

Satie is good. Debussy, Chopin, and Beethoven all composed masterpieces for solo piano as well.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:21 AM on December 16, 2007

Yann Tiersen

Tori Amos


Gary Jules


posted by fake at 10:22 AM on December 16, 2007

Ferrante and Teicher
posted by amyms at 10:23 AM on December 16, 2007

Maurice Ravel:

Sonatine, Mvt 1
Jeux d'eau
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 10:29 AM on December 16, 2007

Best answer: Most people don't think "relaxing" when the name "Philip Glass" comes up, but Solo Piano is exactly that. You can listen to samples there on Amazon. All of the Metamorphosis pieces are good to lie back to but are still engaging.
posted by wackybrit at 10:29 AM on December 16, 2007

Another jazzy recommendation: what Jan Johansson did to this collection of Swedish folk standards back in the early 60s was and is truly magical.
posted by AwkwardPause at 10:34 AM on December 16, 2007

Best answer: OK, my comment made me check youtube -- here you go: Jan Johansson.
posted by AwkwardPause at 10:38 AM on December 16, 2007

Buy Keith Jarrett's albums. His Köln Concert is quite relaxing, a little new age. Live at the Blue Note and Changeless also feature a drummer and a bass player but they're fantastic. Jarrett also puts out classical albums, his Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues are definitely worth listening to. Basically you should buy anything he's done.
posted by creasy boy at 10:41 AM on December 16, 2007

If you're a blues, fan, James Booker is the man to check out.
posted by Rykey at 10:53 AM on December 16, 2007

Keith Jarrett's The Melody At Night, With You is a lovely collection of familiar tunes.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:58 AM on December 16, 2007

Seconding Solo Piano by Philip Glass. I don't normally listen to anything mainstream, but I absolutely love that CD.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 11:06 AM on December 16, 2007

Best answer: David Lanz - the song starts around 1:03
posted by rhapsodie at 11:50 AM on December 16, 2007

Brad Mehldau, on the jazzier side.
posted by rhizome at 12:35 PM on December 16, 2007

Best answer: Angela Hewitt playing J.S. Bach's Das Wohltemperirte Clavier, Book 1
posted by Dr.Pill at 12:53 PM on December 16, 2007

In the same vein as Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau, I can't recommend the Tord Gustavsen Trio enough. They currently have three albums, Changing Places, The Ground, and Being There which are all fantastic. Great lounging around the house music.

Also, the Polish jazz trio Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz, and Michal Miskiewicz on the album Trio.

If you're looking for more piano jazz, you might want to check out this thread.
posted by borjomi at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2007

Best answer: There is nothing else quite like this little album in the world:

Gonzales - Solo Piano

That's an amazon link, but there's a bit more info here. Just get it. I promise you; it's absolutely perfect.
posted by flaneur at 2:25 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

George Winston (December is overplayed this time of year; nonetheless it's an excellent solo piano Christmas album) and Liz Story are my favorites.
posted by eafarris at 2:50 PM on December 16, 2007

Definitely try Chopin's Nocturnes.
posted by tepidmonkey at 3:36 PM on December 16, 2007

Aphex Twin - "Avril 14th"
posted by electric water kettle at 4:41 PM on December 16, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all for the great answers so far. I guess I should have mentioned in the question that I'm not much of a jazz fan, but there's a lot of really good stuff here.

flaneur, I've only listened to about the 30 seconds worth of music that's in that second link and I can already tell you I'm going to buy that album.

Satie looks particularly promising too.

You guys are great! Thanks!
posted by Quidam at 10:03 PM on December 16, 2007

Arvo Pärt "Für Alina" is amazingly soothing and relaxing; we picked it up on CD (with "Spiegel im Spiegel" on the same disc) after seeing it recommended somewhere on here...
posted by Chunder at 2:17 AM on December 17, 2007

Ben Folds is a good current singer/pianist.

Also seconding the classics, Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, etc.

Martha Argerich is a well-renowned pianist, as is Emmanuel Ax.
As a former pianist, these were my heroes.

Some of my favorite pieces, off the top of my head:
--Chopin's Nocturne in E minor - This is a good performance - a lot of times, I hear the piece faster, but I feel that the passion is better expressed at this tempo.
--Chopin's Grand Waltz Brilliant
--Scott Joplin's Bethena - The penultimate chord resolution is to die for. Again with the speed in this version - some folks play it too fast for my tastes.
--Tchaikovsky's Prelude in C Sharp Minor - this piece is impressive to watch - when the pianist's hands are dancing on the keyboard, the score shows 4 staves of notes for two hands to play. If I recall correctly, a friend of mine once broke a piano string on this piece :)

Hope you enjoy listening to these pieces as much as I do!
posted by at 7:33 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Allow me to recommend Solo Piano Radio, an Internet audio stream that features...well, you get the idea.
posted by DandyRandy at 8:47 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Anyone have any podcast recommendations for piano?
posted by canine epigram at 11:27 AM on December 17, 2007

Not all piano, but the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum podcast is pretty good:
posted by ajohnson1200 at 10:50 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I can't believe no one has recommended Glenn Gould's recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. Especially this version which includes the 1955 & 1981 recordings.
posted by Huw at 12:38 AM on December 18, 2007

Oh, I've already got that one, and it's quite good!
posted by canine epigram at 6:23 PM on December 18, 2007

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