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Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

Composers with large piano selections?

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Showing 1-24 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 26, 2011, 10:25:54 PM PDT
I am obsessed with the piano, have been since I was 3, I also play piano, since I was 3, and my favorite works tend to be for my instrument, and I was wondering which composers have the largest selection? My only requirement is that they be easily obtainable either via cd or sheet music.

Posted on Aug 26, 2011, 10:30:17 PM PDT
KenOC says:
Old testament: J S Bach's Well-tempered Clavier.

New Testament: Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas.

Others: Mozart, Schumann, Chopin. When you're done with these, there are plenty more!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2011, 10:50:47 PM PDT
Debussy and Granados have great stuff that is readily listenable (and cheap; Martin Jones for Granados; Alain Planes for Debussy). There are others like Godowsky, Chopin, etc. as well, but Debussy and Granados are delightful even to those who don't know what they're supposed to like.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 12:03:51 AM PDT
Dmitri says:
Chopin is like the piano only composer that I know that is famous enough to answer your question.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 12:15:42 AM PDT
MacDoom says:
Could you be more explicit? As someone obsessed with the piano from age three, you should be able to run rings around most of us in your knowledge of repertoire, and I can't see how my crying 'Schumann' is going to help? So I guess I'm asking: what are you actually after?

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 6:12:25 AM PDT
scarecrow says:
Well hate to send you off into more regions of obsessional behavior---- but Kaikhoshru Sorabji has written mountains of piano music, usually a short piece for him a bagatelle is half-n'hour as Gulistan;
He even has his own cadre of pianists as Jonathan Powell, Yonty Solomon, Donna Amada, Geoffrey Madge, and Marc Andre Hamelin

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 6:25:32 AM PDT
HB says:
Some names yet to appear: Grieg, Field, Haydn, Debussy, Satie, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Gottschalk, Anton Rubinstein and Joplin. There are plenty of others.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 6:29:10 AM PDT
The obvious name to list must be Liszt -- his piano output is huge and was widely admired in his own time. Nowadys maybe a little less and maybe for good reasons...

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 6:45:01 AM PDT
Dichterliebe says:
Scriabin, Alkan, Albeniz, Weber, Hummel, Brahms, Medtner, MacDowell, CPE Bach, Thalberg, Dussek, Godowsky (original and arrangements), Prokofiev, Ravel, Rameau, Couperin, Telemann, Clementi...the list of composers who made significant contributions to the piano (keyboard) literature is a long one.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 7:09:30 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 17, 2012, 1:12:36 PM PDT]

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 8:11:44 AM PDT
Schubert and Schumann wrote piano music (or piano parts in the case of their vast output of Lieder) that is frequently difficult but almost never unidiomatic. It fits into the hand fairly well at its worst, and your fingers seem to wind up in the right place a lot of time without too much effort. The same is true of a lot of Beethoven and Mozart before them and even Chopin after them.

Liszt, being not only a virtuoso but a show-off like Paganini, wrote a lot of music that takes months of practice before it even begins to feel logical. He had a sense of bombast that can turn some lovely little pieces into towering tours-de-force that are, quite frankly, a good example of "yes you CAN, but SHOULD you?" Sometimes this works out, as in the case of some of the Wagner transcriptions, and sometimes it sounds like a bunch of extra garbage, as in the Rigoletto quartet "paraphrase."

Love him or hate him, you have to include Liszt as being highly influential, even if some of what he influenced might not have been in a great direction!

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 8:14:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2011, 8:57:46 AM PDT
Schubert being avoided until post seven is kind of sad.
my top three for piano are beethoven schubert and Bartok.

bartok hasn't been mentioned at all until now.
he did write more piano music than debussy or satie.(unless of course one takes all 839 repeats of 'vexations'.

personally my next would three would be Debussy, Chopin and Prokofiev.
but that is really personal and I can easily see why people might think I'm overrating prokofiev, but I still have to put his piano music in.
'visions fugatives','sarcasms', 'tales from my grandmother' are early greats and his late sonatas are excellent.

BTW, I really like Bach in piano, but I just don't think of him as a piano composer. perhaps decca will reissue the schiff box in one of their cheap bargain boxes, I keep going back to that thing.(his decca schubert recordings have been announced in europe, Instant purchase when they get released here-I know, it isn't that much more and it doesn't take that long from Presto-classical-but I still would rather wait to see if they are going to be issued here)

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 8:52:00 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 17, 2012, 1:12:32 PM PDT]

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 9:09:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2011, 9:14:49 AM PDT
Thanks march.
I was pretty sure it was going to come out here.

As far as bartok there are several single discs I recommend but most appear to be in over-priced out of print used mode. but one of the best can be had pretty cheaply a oh look it is by schiff.

Schiff Plays Bartok
it is heavy on the 'folk' inspired stuff, but that is usually the easiest portal for people to enter Bartok's piano world through.

some of the others have been 'usurped' by the Bargain box by kocsis
Complete Solo Piano Music
if one is paying 20 bucks for a single used cd, one might as well consider paying a tad over 30 and getting all 8 discs of it.
Of the current in print easy to find new the lowenthal would be perhaps the best one disc out there.Jerome Lowenthal, Piano But my best recommendation would be to either get the schiff used because it can be had so cheap or hear enough on youtube to see whether or not a complete cycle is for you. at the price and performance Kocsis is hard to beat, but 30 bucks for 8 discs of music you are never going to want to listen to is not a bargain despite how 'essential' other people like myself think it is.

Keep in mind it is hard to encapsulate many composer's piano output to a single representative disc. They always seem to leave out a few 'must haves'.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 9:33:51 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2011, 10:30:53 AM PDT
Composers not mentioned so far, who wrote a good deal of music for the solo piano are: Dmitri Shostakovich, Frederico Mompou, Francis Poulenc, and for early keyboards (Harpsichord, Virginals, etc.): William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Dr. John Bull, Thomas Tomkins, Domenico Scarlatti & Georg Frederic Handel.

From this grouping I'd recommend exploring:

1) Shostakovich--48 Preludes & Fugues.
2) Mompou--Musica Callada (Josep Colom, Mompou himself, & also Jenny Lin, Herbert Henck), and a single Decca CD of Alicia de Larrocha playing a selection of works by Mompou (it's a pity she never recorded the complete Musica Callada).
3) Poulenc--Melancolie (a short piece, but a favorite of mine)--Pascal Roge plays it very well (or Christina Ortiz, Gabriel Tacchino).

Scarlatti, Gibbons & Handel's keyboard music has all been performed on a piano:

4) Orlando Gibbons--Complete Keyboard Music--Daniel-Ben Pienaar
5) Handel--16 Keyboard Suites--Sviatoslav Richter and Andre Gavrilov, ( & Murray Perahia plays a selection)
6) Scarlatti--excellent piano recordings from Horowitz, Tomsic (inexpensive) & Sudbin, but also--Pogorelich, Tipo, Zacharias, & Schiff, (and Perahia, Pletnev too).

7) There is a single CD of Glenn Gould playing a selection of keyboard works by Byrd, Gibbons, & Sweelinck on a piano. However, I'd personally recommend the alternative of Davitt Moroney's excellent survey of the Complete Keyboard works of Byrd played on the virginals (there is also a single CD 'selection' drawn from the set). And a superb recent CD entitled, "Mr. Tomkins: his Lessons of Worthe"--a personal list of keyboard works chosen by composer Thomas Tomkins (1572--1656); which includes works by Bull, Tomkins, Tallis, & Byrd--and is played beautifully by Bertrand Cuiller on the Mirare label.

Edit: In response to PalJacky's recommendation of Schiff's Bartok above: I once saw a fairly tame concert recital by Andras Schiff--he played Mozart & something else, I can't even remember. It was actually a little boring. And then he finished with some Bartok, and it was suddenly like I was listening to a different pianist--he became riveting, and what a technique Schiff has, it was unbelievable. (Kocsis & Ranki are also excellent in Bartok.)

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 9:42:45 AM PDT
MacDoom says:
Also not to be forgotten, as they have at least two relatively easily obtainable CDs' worth of piano music to their credit (without duplications):
Rubinstein (Anton)
Admittedly, two CDs' worth is a very arbitrary measure of importance as a composer for piano, but then, it's still not clear what the original poster is looking for.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 10:03:28 AM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Another vote for Bortkiewicz, Moszkowski, Stanchinsky, and, yes, Liszt. Chopin and Scriabin are almost exclusively piano. Medtner is worth looking into, especially Op. 20/1 "Russian Tale" in B-flat minor". Rachmaninoff and Brahms definitely, but also Haydn, Mozart, and all the others named already.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 10:15:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2011, 10:48:51 AM PDT
Two oversights so far: Leos Janacek, and Georges Enescu. Janacek wrote quite a bit for the solo piano. I'd recommend looking into recordings by pianists Rudolf Firkusny (on RCA--digital, or his earlier DG--analogue), Ivan Moravec, and Andras Schiff--"In the Mists" and "On an Overgrown Path" are essential. (There is also a complete set of Janacek's piano music by Haakon Austbo, which I haven't heard, but Austbo is an underrated pianist, & it's probably quite good.)

As for Enescu, I have only a single CD of his piano music, or rather hybrid SACD, of Luiza Borac playing Enescu's Three Piano Suites, and I like it a lot--it's very imaginative music. Radu Lupu plays Enescu incredibly well in concert, but he's never recorded anything to my knowledge. There is also a series on Naxos of Enescu's piano music, which gets good reviews, but I don't know it.

Edit: Also, as mentioned above, I too find Prokofiev's solo piano music to be very underrated. Recordings by Richter, Gilels, Pogorelich, Horowitz, & Lazar Berman should give you some idea as to why. In addition, there is a complete set of the 9 Piano Sonatas, & Visions Fugitives by the Finnish pianist, Matti Raekallio, which is very good. As box sets go, I prefer Raekallio to Boris Berman (& Chiu), though Berman's Chandos series is complete--he recorded everything that Prokofiev ever wrote for solo piano, which I found very useful, and he wrote an excellent book on the subject too.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2011, 10:16:28 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2011, 10:16:50 AM PDT
KenOC says:
I noted Alkan just once, easily missed in a longer list. So...ALKAN! A pianist might find some of his music a mite challenging, of course.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 10:28:11 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2011, 3:17:43 PM PDT
scarecrow says:
Frederic Rzewski has much piano music, I mean he writes quite well for the piano's resonance, I don't think we can say that about all this piano music mentioned;And Rzewski has much beyond the 36 Variations of "The People United...", also pieces for speaking pianist, as " De Profundis" after Oscar Wilde that was just performed in NYCity this past week.

He has a large 9 Hour, "The Road, recorded by him, and things he calls NanoSonatas. . . All of this is FREE, Yeah FREE, at the Werner Icking Archive on line, you gotta print it;

Also look forward a forthcoming issue of Contemporary Music Review, an entire issue devoted to him.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 11:38:40 AM PDT
You're asking for a single work, right? Presuming you are Jean Barraque's Piano Sonata clocks in at about 55 minutes, and dense stuff it is, too.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 2:57:52 PM PDT
David M. says:
5 prolific composers who are never out of my rotation:


5 prolific composers I love to play, but not at all times:


5 prolific composers whose piano works ought to be better known:


Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 3:13:21 PM PDT
KenOC says:
Composers with large WHAT? Not sure I like where this is going.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011, 3:26:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 28, 2011, 4:51:34 AM PDT
scarecrow says:
John White also has brilliant piano music, over 180 Piano Sonatas, Yes No typo, 180; some are recorded,Roger Smalley I believe---the Sonata ranges in conception from Scarlatti to Listz;

Fredrik Ullen has recorded now and available Sorabji's Transcendental Etudes; there are 100, again no typo, 100----the final one Passacaglia is one hour long just itself;, so if you are into scaling piano mountains,this is worth checking out;

Also George Flynn's "Trinity" is an incredible piano work,3 parts, Kanal, Wound and Salvage-- I've play all of it in public. . .

also Dave Smith has much very interesting piano music;as does Michael Finnissy again a treasure reservoir or piano music,Howard Skempton is a miniaturist piano writer, Giancarlo Cardini; If only we would get to know it; You might also try Ian Wood, Frank Corcoran. . . Roger Redgate. . . .Peter Ablinger, Beat Furrer. . . .Horatiu Radelescu. . . Ivan Fedele has nice Etudes,and a wonderful Piano Concerto--- as Ramon Lazkano. . . .Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff have entire lifeworlds of piano solo music,the piano was the focus for their creativity; Wolff's "12 Preludes" are nice to get to know; Marco Stroppa, Salvatore Sciarrino (5 Sonatas) one to Pollini. . . Paolo Longo, . . .

When it comes to the Piano Etude (We talked about this before, years ago in fact), it all starts in great reservoir of overdetermined abundance with John Cage's "Etudes Australes",(get Grete Sultan's famous recording). . . then we've all been pummeled with Gyorgy Ligeti, his" Three Books",less interesting are conservative-minded Wm.Bolcom, Ned Rorem, Pascal DusapinGerhard Stabler,, Ivan Fedele as mentioned;
Sally Pinkas does a great reading there of Wolff, as Ursula Oppens, certainly her Carter, Rzewski, has no equal; beyond that there is Sarah Cahill, Marilyn Nonken, Nicolas Hodges, Massimiliano Damerini, Ellen Corver, Frank Gutschmidt,Stefan Schliermacher, Herbert Henck, all wonderful pianists for this new (well not new anymore) repertoire;much of it locatable on youtube; Go and See, Los, Los, Los meiner Freund . . . .
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
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Total posts:  24
Initial post:  Aug 26, 2011
Latest post:  Aug 27, 2011

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