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#2038402 - 02/24/13 11:16 AM What sort of piano music do you prefer to play?
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5281
I don't mean what genre/category of music (after all, this forum is about classical music, apart from the odd interloper.....), nor even what period (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, contemporary etc) but rather how the notes look like on the pages, how they are arranged, how they lie under the fingers.

Are they slow and of the RH melody with LH chords kind (like a lot of easy-listening jazz), or RH melody with arpeggiated (etc) LH accompaniment (e.g. most Chopin Nocturnes), or busy figuration with melodies/countermelodies all over the place (e.g. a lot of Fauré), or polyphonic (e.g. Bach fugues), or plenty of octaves and chords moving fast and constantly, or of the predominantly percussive type? Obviously, a lot of great music has elements of most, if not all of the above, but most have predominantly one kind (at least, the single movement pieces). And many composers use different 'styles' in different (kinds of) pieces, so this question is not really about composers.

This is obviously directed at those who are comfortable with playing advanced music (and don't need to avoid certain kinds of pieces for technical reasons), rather than beginners or early-intermediate pianists. Obviously, if you make a living from performing, or you're a student, you may have no choice in the matter. But if you're just playing for your own pleasure, what sort of music (using my 'definition' above) would you tend to gravitate to, what would you prefer to learn, and keep in your repertoire to play regularly? Or do you have no preference, but play something because you like the tunes, no matter how it's dressed up?

I've been playing purely for my own pleasure since I finished my 'proper' studies (which didn't involve music - I had piano lessons on the side) and have a few decades of playing only what I enjoy (when I have access to a piano, that is), without a teacher to nudge me in any one direction; and the few public recitals I've done have been purely for fun (mine, and hopefully that of the audience grin). Looking at what I've chosen to learn to play over the years has been quite revealing: there's nothing with straightforward RH melody over LH chords (though I do sight-read some of those, but never really 'learn' them) and very few of the (Chopin Nocturne-type) RH melody over LH arpeggios. Not a lot of polyphonic stuff either. The vast majority have busy figuration often running in both hands with melodies or melodic strands passed between hands, or chords and octaves, again with busy accompaniment. Examples of what I enjoy playing include the Schumann/Liszt Widmung, Mendelssohn's Rondo capriccioso, Franck's Violin Sonata arranged for piano solo by Alfred Cortot - especially the second movement, Rachmaninoff's G minor Prelude and Ravel's Ondine. I really enjoy the tactile feel of rapid notes under the fingers. And maybe it's also the case that I like the finger/wrist/arm 'workout' when playing, and don't have the patience to spend much time on some kinds of slower music (which are easy to sight-read) where the emphasis is on careful voicing and phrasing rather than any technical challenges.

So, what sort of music would you prefer to (learn to) play purely for your own pleasure, if you weren't constrained by impending concerts, specific repertoire taught by your teacher or required for exams/competitions etc?
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2038411 - 02/24/13 12:01 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6169
Loc: St. Louis area
I would play a lot more Liszt and Brahms.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2038480 - 02/24/13 02:44 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
im@me Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/21/12
Posts: 68
I don't really know ow to answer, I try to vary my repertoire as much as possible but, I would most probably go for for fun technically challenging pieces: Mendelssohn rondo carpriccioso, Ravel: Scarbo, and some of the Liszt operatic paraphrases.

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#2038500 - 02/24/13 03:17 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: im@me]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5281
Originally Posted By: im@me
I don't really know ow to answer, I try to vary my repertoire as much as possible but, I would most probably go for for fun technically challenging pieces: Mendelssohn rondo carpriccioso, Ravel: Scarbo, and some of the Liszt operatic paraphrases.


Like you, I equate 'fun' in piano playing with 'technically challenging' and keeping my hands busy grin.

But I do get the impression (from posts in this forum and elsewhere) that most adult amateur pianists who aren't having lessons and play for fun prefer not to challenge themselves with technical pieces, but instead play straightforward tuneful music, including light jazz and 'easy listening' type stuff, even if they are technically accomplished.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2038554 - 02/24/13 04:49 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
Practicing - hard pieces. Nothing too emotionally draining.

Performing - (technically) easy pieces.
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2038557 - 02/24/13 04:56 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
Auntie Lynn Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 1108
Loc: San Francisco, CA
On my job, you have to be able to play everything from Gregorian Chant to Sorabji... Eckshully, my specialty (if it can be said I have one), is Big Band, classic pop and classic rock...

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#2038571 - 02/24/13 05:09 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4806
Loc: Seattle area, WA
I look for pieces I consider to be interesting. It's hard to define what I mean but they all seem to have technical and interpretive challenges. My taste covers a wide range of composers and periods. I tend to be drawn to longer pieces that I can immerse myself into for many months.
_________________________
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Deborah

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#2038587 - 02/24/13 05:31 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
kapelli Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 386
Loc: Poland
My answer is the same as gooddog.
I play what I am currently interested in.
Now it's Gershwin's songbook and Scriabin Preludes.

2 months ago I played some och Bach Partitas.

I never did judge music on their hands construction, would I like to play this type or another. I play what I currently would like to learn and I think it's best way to learn smile

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#2038588 - 02/24/13 05:38 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
I usually listen to the piece before I ever learn it--that's how I find most of them. So, typically there's something about its sound that attracts me.

But every once in a while, I'll pull a book out and riffle through it. In those cases, I'm usually looking for something relatively easy (based on my technique strengths)--lots of octaves, big chords, leaps are fine, speed is fairly irrelevant.

I don't typically go after pieces with ridiculous notey passages, or fast run after fast run (with no obvious repetition in the run), because it takes me longer to get those under my fingers. And these days, I simply like to enjoy the time I have in front of the keyboard more than studying anything in particular.

As for which composers, I tend to go in spurts. Right now, contrary to everything I listed above, I've been on a Mozart kick. Prior to that, it was ragtime. Before that, rock/pop. Before that, Rachmaninoff. After Mozart? Who knows.. maybe Chopin polonaises. I haven't decided. So, I'm really all over the place.

But the constant rule of thumb is that, when I'm there just to enjoy something, I tend to stick to strengths rather than work on weaknesses. Octaves/chords are my strengths. Really intricate passage work (Bach is a perfect example) is my greatest weakness.

So, when sight-reading (using relatively comparable works):

An example of what I look for: Liszt's Mazzeppa or Wild Jagd
An example of something I don't look for: Liszt's Feux Follets

If we picked some easier repertoire:

Yes: Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag / Liszt's Hungarian No 2
No: Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu / Revolutionary Etude

At some point, I've played every piece listed above, but I was attempting to answer what I gravitate towards, and not what I've learned/haven't learned.


I also tend to avoid atonal stuff like the plague. And most middle-20th century works. Just don't like them. As a matter of fact, I can probably count on one hand everything I've played (classical) that was published between Rachmaninoff and yesterday.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2038623 - 02/24/13 06:26 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21674
Loc: Oakland
Music which is close to my abilities.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2038630 - 02/24/13 06:41 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4831
Loc: USA
Right now I'm working on Chopin's last scherzo. It is a blast to play and almost as fun to learn. In fact, I'd say I've had the most fun learning it than any other piece.

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#2038632 - 02/24/13 06:43 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: Derulux]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5281
Interesting to see what people gravitate to when playing simply for their own pleasure.

Like many, I learnt stuff with my teachers that I'd probably never have chosen to learn for myself, based on hearing the music and/or looking at the scores - in my case impressionist Debussy (all those meandering chords just don't do anything for me), and a lot of Bach. And I'd probably not play much - if any - Haydn either. None of my teachers ever encouraged me to learn any atonal music, and the most 'modern' music I was taught was Bartók.

Scarlatti, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Scriabin, Ravel, Joplin, Gershwin, Granados, Albéniz, Prokofiev, Vine....all these composers (and many others like Martinu, Sibelius, Palmgren, Ginastera, Lecuona) I chose to learn for myself, which in many ways was more fun than studying them with a teacher, because I picked their music that I enjoyed, rather than their 'best'. And naturally, I picked the music that was not just enjoyable to play, and melodically and harmonically (and technically) interesting to me, but that also played to my strengths.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2038659 - 02/24/13 07:54 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7898
I don't think I gravitate towards anything in particular.

In the last couple of days, I've played through and/or worked on: Bach a minor partita and the P&Fs from WTC I in C# maj and min, a Medtner skazka, a couple of Chopin etudes, two interludes and a fugue from Ludus Tonalis, Rach-Men MSND Scherzo, the Scriabin Poémes op. 69, a Chavez prelude, several short pieces by Prokofiev, a whole Clementi sonata plus a movement from another one, and sight-read the middle movement of Ornstein's 8th sonata. Over the last month or so, I've read through all of Alkan's Esquisses and Chants and most of his Preludes.

If pressed, I might say I tend towards things that are too difficult for my level, but that I enjoy playing through slowly anyway.

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#2038685 - 02/24/13 08:45 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6112
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I usually prefer minor keys.
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#2038756 - 02/25/13 12:30 AM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
I tend to be drawn to darker pieces, or works that evoke something deeper for me on an emotional level. In a way it's bad because my programs tend to drain me so much sometimes.

But I like other stuff too, for example I still adore playing the Debussy violin sonata. Or some Haydn!
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2038780 - 02/25/13 01:35 AM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
LadyChen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/25/12
Posts: 521
Loc: Canada
I get the most enjoyment out of playing Bach fugues and Chopin nocturnes (or other LH arpeggio, RH melody type music), but I'm not sure if it's because I really like them or if it's because they feel 'easy' to me (or easier than music with big chords and octaves, anyway).

I always have trouble getting into sonata-playing, but since I'm forced to learn some, I usually pick Haydn -- I find his music incredibly fun to play -- very playful and lots of little musical jokes.

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#2038784 - 02/25/13 01:57 AM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
jeffreyjones Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2359
Loc: San Jose, CA
I really love playing slow movements, especially ones that "speak" like the Chopin Third Sonata, late Beethoven, or Schubert.

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#2038793 - 02/25/13 02:50 AM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I like playing well-written, pianistic music. It's hard to define exactly what this is, it's something you think and feel as you play it, something about how it all feels under the hands. Ravel would be a good example, as would Kapustin, who's music seems to be born out of the shapes the hands can make one the keyboard and the various techniques we use to play it. Difficult it may be but it's incredibly comfortable and viscerally pleasurable to play.

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#2038822 - 02/25/13 04:25 AM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: debrucey]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5281
Originally Posted By: debrucey
.....comfortable and viscerally pleasurable to play.


That's exactly the term I was looking for....

Of course, what feels 'pianistic' to one pianist may not feel the same to another, though it does seem like there's a general consensus with some well-known composers and their music.

Oddly, it's often not the composer-pianists who write the most pianistic music. And some very awkward piano music (like some of Ravel's) feels very pleasurable under the fingers once it's mastered. While some of Liszt's - the epitome of a composer-pianist - (especially those with lots of tremolos) can feel like elephants even when mastered....
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2038825 - 02/25/13 04:37 AM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
I am fortunate to play only the best ... this is no bravado folks ... by 2013 the breathtaking masterpieces have all been neatly listed to make any choice another filleted gem from “top of the pile”.

My present rendezvous is with Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata Opus 53 ... but will I ever get it right?

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#2038918 - 02/25/13 08:41 AM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I wouldn't say it was 'often' not the composer-pianists, but you're right, it's sometimes not.

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#2038961 - 02/25/13 11:16 AM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: debrucey]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5281
Originally Posted By: debrucey
I wouldn't say it was 'often' not the composer-pianists, but you're right, it's sometimes not.


You're right. Liszt's output for piano dwarfs almost everyone else's (certainly among the composer-pianists) but so much of it sounds like quasi-orchestral transcriptions that one quite forgets Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev et al, and their pianistic writing for the piano wink . Then you have Haydn, Schubert, Schumann, Ravel etc who weren't very good pianists but still write idiomatically.

And then you have a few like Brahms and Busoni who were virtuoso pianists, and whose piano writing style can be idiomatic at times, but at others....
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2039002 - 02/25/13 12:47 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4831
Loc: USA
I thought Schumann was a fine pianist? (until he hurt his hand)

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#2039032 - 02/25/13 01:51 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: JoelW]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5281
Originally Posted By: JoelW
I thought Schumann was a fine pianist? (until he hurt his hand)


You're probably right, but there doesn't seem to be any contemporary reviews of any concerts he might have given (if any), so I assumed he never attained virtuoso status..... grin
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2039130 - 02/25/13 03:51 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 730
Loc: Finland
I like to play pieces that are slow and moody (more suitable for funerals my friends usually say), cantabile style, 2 or 3 voices, usually rather scarce in texture and often more finger work than chords in the left hand.

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#2039313 - 02/25/13 09:48 PM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
didyougethathing Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/11
Posts: 545
Loc: New York
As far as mood goes, I love darker pieces in minor keys, or ones that evoke strange imagery. I also like the very chromatic nature in certain minor pieces, like the Chopin C#minor Waltz. These types of pieces come off as almost erotic in a way, the way they twist and turn. I'll stop that description there. smile Gaspard is my favorite piece of music, and most of Ravel's work is in my favorites as well.

As far as what pieces I like to play physically, I do NOT like to just play accompaniment and melody in classical pieces. I adore Chopin and Mozart, but when I play I much prefer to play pieces by Ravel and Debussy, and even Scarlatti. Especially with Ravel and Scarlatti, I find there is a constant freshness in motion between the hands that I really love, and I feel comes naturally to me to learn. However, I am learning some Chopin right now, because I just love the music too much.

I also adore Bach, but his music gives me such a terrible challenge when I attempt to learn a fugue or two/three part invention. I always try to incorporate this type of piece into my playing because it is so beneficial, but I don't enjoy learning them despite loving the music.

Non-classical, a lot of Jazz. Mostly 50s and 60s style bop and post bop. Love Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Oscar, plus many of the horn players as well. I prefer to improvise over the more modern changes, like a Wayne Shorter tune as opposed to an old standard, but I also play though those plenty.

I like to take the occasional corny pop song and then transport it to a different genre or style. For example, take an Adele song and play it in a bossa nova style.


Edited by didyougethathing (02/25/13 09:50 PM)

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#2039367 - 02/26/13 12:00 AM Re: What sort of piano music do you prefer to play? [Re: bennevis]
jeffreyjones Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2359
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: JoelW
I thought Schumann was a fine pianist? (until he hurt his hand)


You're probably right, but there doesn't seem to be any contemporary reviews of any concerts he might have given (if any), so I assumed he never attained virtuoso status..... grin


He never had the chance, as his injury developed at the age of nineteen. He gave up on being a pianist soon after. Since he couldn't play, he tried to write a symphony instead, but it didn't go well for him.

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