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Its nice to have all the big names in our repertoire. However, I'm now keen to explore lesser known composers which still wrote decent music. I believe it would be nice to grow an affinity with some lesser known piano literature not only as something extra to add to our repertoire, but also so that our own interpretations of that music would be more personal, since it would not be played/recorded by many people.
Some may/may not classify him as 'lesser known' compser, but Charles Alkan springs to my mind. His etudes are colossal, dare I say on par with the Chopin etudes.
Ravel - Une Barque Sur l'Ocean Kapustin - Etude No. 7 Bach/Busoni - Chaconne
Joined: Jan 2005 Posts: 9,868pianojerome
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Some of you know that I recently founded the Joseph Achron Society, devoted to the life and works of the Lithuanian-Jewish composer (1886-1943)
IMO, his "Symphonic Variations and Sonata on a Jewish Theme", Op. 39, should definitely be a staple of the repertoire. A public domain score, along with those for his two brilliant Op. 56 pieces, are available on the JAS website.
His other piano works include a "Concerto for Piano Alone" (i.e. without orchestra - kind of like what Alkan did) and several suites.
Most of his oeuvre is chamber music - violin pieces, string quartets, art songs, cello music - though he also wrote three violin concertos, incidental theater music, film music, and orchestral works.
Unfortunately, most of his music hasn't been recorded or published, and he's so regretfully unknown. I'm hoping to change that.
You don't say what specific kind of music, or difficulty level, you're looking for. American composers Godard, Nevin and Gottschalk (I think American anyway) come to mind. Mompou, Fanny Mendelssohn, Czech composer Martinu, and Respighi, with a few piano pieces, also. I'm sure there are many more.
You might like pieces in the collection"The Heaven Ladder, Book 7" by Terry Riley.
Everybody knows Terry Riley from his famous minimalist piece "In C," but few know there is a whole body of piano solo music, and even 4-hand music. It's quite fun and accessible.
You can get a taste of it here. Click on any of the titles to hear a short excerpt. Most of the pieces will seem slow, but that's because they have slow intro's and the link just lets you hear a little bit. Start with "Venus in '94."
I'll post a number of lesser-known French composers, contemporaneous with Debussy and Ravel, all of whom wrote IMO some terrific piano pieces:
Emmanuel Chabrier 10 Pieces Pittoresques; Bourree Fantasque Deodat de Severac En Languedoc; Cerdana; Le Chant de la Terre Albert Roussel Sonatine; Suite for Piano Ernest Chausson Quelque Danses Guy Ropartz Quelque Femmes Vincent d'Indy Laufenberg; Aarau Alberic Magnard Promenades Jacques Ibert Histoires Francis Poulenc Mouvements Perpetuel; Suite (1928)
The Henselt is a lovely piece for what it is. I don't think, however, that it would wear very well nor would be worth programming except perhaps as a light encore or maybe grouped with a couple of other Etudes from the same opus.
Fortunately, it is easy to learn/play, so one wouldn't have to spend much time on it. I don't think it would have much of a "shelf life" though, pretty though it is at first hearing.
There are some other interesting performances of it on YT. I also remember that it was turning up at some competitions. Shchedrin has written a good deal of piano music that's worthwhile (he recorded some of it himself). The set of preludes and fugues in all the keys is a real treasure-trove for people who "get" his style.
Another Russian, still living, who has written a considerable amount of good (and rather tough-minded) piano music is Boris Tishchenko - here's his 6th sonata (I don't think the graphic displayed has anything to do with the music...).
Gustav Lange is not very well known.. he composed some nice pieces, his most successful being 'Blumenlied'
I realize that we're getting into subjective reactions, here, but as far as Lange's Bluemenlied (Flower Song) is concerned, it hardly fits the category of "great" pieces by lesser known composers! Blumenlied is a bit of 19th century salon writing, and "nice" is about the highest praise one can give it.