Recommend some piano music

I usually listen to different types of rock music, with some blues thrown in for good measure. But sometimes I feel for something less “intrusive”, simpler, lighter stuff. On such occasions I’ve been listening to classical piano, more specifically Bach’s Goldberg variations played by Glenn Gould or Eric Satie’s Gymnopedies. Just the piano, no other instruments, no arrangements. Simple, unobtrusive and infintely beautiful

However, I’d like to have some more alternatives. What would the Dopers recommend?

Beethoven piano sonatas. I like the last three. For some reason I always hear the last one called the 111th or Opus 111. I also really like the Appassionata and the Tempest. There are a lot of recordings where you get three together, like Les Adieux, Waldstein (Wald-something), Appassionata. They’re all good.

Rachmaninoff has some nice preludes and things, too. See if you like this one, Prelude in G Sharp Minor (youtube), maybe it can lead you to more.

Oh, another Rachmaninoff, prelude in G minor

I suggest the works of Chopin. Couple of examples:

Nocturne In E-Flat, Op. 9, No. 2

Etude Op. 10 No. 3

Chopin’s Nocturne was a great suggestion, gotta see if I can find that recording. Thanks! Do you know anything by Debussy which could fit?

BTW, jazz pieces would also be great. Regarding music, I’m rather omnivorous WRT genre

Bach’s solo works are hauntingly beautiful. I can also recommend Domenico Scarlatti from the same period. Mozart’s piano sonatas are stunning, Shubert is way up there too, IMO, as is Schumann. Look for any of these guys on youtube or even wikipedia and poke around a bit. I’m sure you will find something you like.

As for non-classical, one of my latest solo piano passions is the work of the wonderful Ethiopian pianist Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou.

There are great jazz pianists out there with beautiful solo stuff, too. Thelonious Monk is my personal favorite, but Bill Evans, Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Keith Jarrett etc. have all made wonderful music. Some of it might be labelled “intrusive”, but it is still worth it, though.

Debussy? He wrote a lot of beautiful, evocative piano music. Try the Preludes; I especially recommend the playing of Arturo Benedetti Michaelangeli.

La Fille aux cheveux de lin - The Girl with the Flaxen Hair. Preludes, book 1, #8

La Cathédral engloutie - The Sunken Cathedral Preludes, book 1, #10

I’m also a big fan of Brahms, especially the short piano works. There’s a great recording of Radu Lupu - it was the middle disc of this three disc set. I’m not sure if it’s available separately anymore.

Opus 117, #1
Opus 118, #2
Jazz - I’d second all the recommendations above. May I just throw in a few more? Earl Hines’ solo piano work is fantastic. I’ll keep having a troll on the YouTubes, but so far all I can find is his ensemble work. The solo albums are outstanding.

George Shearing is another you might enjoy. Concord had an album, simply called ‘Piano’ that was great.

Nat King Cole - I don’t know if he ever recorded just solo, but the trio recordings were beautiful. He’s an interesting artist - we now think of him as ‘just’ a singer, but his piano playing was top-notch.

George Essihos - Victoria, BC’s best kept secret. I feel honour bound to mention him because only a handful of people seem to know about him. Solo Journeys is a superb album.

Jazz piano is often best heard in a trio environment. Bill Evans excels in that area and may be the most imitated jazz piano these days.

Other jazz piano to investigate:

Art Tatum
Oscar Peterson
Keith Jarrett
Herbie Hancock
Ahmad Jamal
Chick Corea

YouTube has some good clips by those guys, but if this doesn’t blow you away, I have no advice for you:

Caravan - MICHEL PETRUCCIANI solo live

Another one I particularly like: The Conversation - Music by David Shire

Bill Evans, Live at the Village Vanguard. Sublime.

ETA: simul-post with Zeldar

You might find some help from Your Favorite Bill Evans YouTube Clip which I started 09-14-2010 and which has had 12 posts as of my latest check. The thread is too young to be a zombie and I would love to see more input there.

I would add Eliane Elias to the list but her better music is with a combo and is mostly Brazilian flavored.

Thank you for that.


Quite welcome! His other YouTube things are also worthy work. Amazing human being. RIP.

I’m a fan of Busoni’s transcriptions of a number of Bach’s works.

In addition to the other great suggestions, you might want to look for some of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces.

A caution: when it comes to the keyboard works of Bach, Scarlatti, and others of that era, sometimes they’re played on a piano, sometimes on some other instrument, like a harpsichord. If it matters to you, watch out for this when looking for recordings.

(The earliest pianos were just being built during Bach’s day, and he never wrote anything specifically for the piano as such.)

Absolutely true. I kind of like the harpsichord versions, but I find that I need to be more focused on the music. My wife just finds it stressful.

Debussy, Clair de Lune

It’s popularity has resurged recently after being featured in one of the Twilight flicks apparently, but it’s timeless.

I would start with Chopin, then for sheer brilliance, listen to some Rachmaninoff.

Yes. My favorite of the Lyric Pieces is Homesickness.

“Simple, unobtrusive, and beautiful”. And, “just piano”. Why, you’re asking for Metamorphosis by Philip Glass. It can be found on this album among others. I hope you’ll check out the samples.

(Speaking of sampling Philip Glass, were you aware that Amazon has a free Philip Glass sampler album?)

Bach wrote a LOT of stuff for keyboard (well, he wrote a lot of stuff, period). The Well-Tempered Clavier (preludes and fugues in every key), his Italian Concerto, English suites, French suites, fantasias, partitas, and much, much more.

I like the piano music of Maurice Ravel (probably best-known for Bolero). His Mother Goose Suite (Ma Mere l’Oye) was originally written for piano four hands and intended for younger performers, so it’s relatively simple. Also try his Miroirs and Valses Nobles et Sentimentales.

Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite was also written with younger pianists in mind, so again, it’ll be simpler. But do follow up on the recommendations already given. Also try his Images, 2 Arabesques, and Pour Le Piano.

YouTube will have a lot of these.

One of my special occasional pleasures is, late at night when everything else is quiet, listening to Ravel or Debussy late at night.