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#502303 - 07/23/01 10:41 PM The perfect repertoire
SethW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/01
Posts: 106
I was at a bookstore not long ago listening to an invited pianist play.This, along with listening to the recent Van Cliburn Piano Competition, has gotten me to thinking about the many times when I have stumbled across a piano, in various places,and have wanted to play something I like,but never took the time to learn.I think it is time I update my repertoire,so I can play some great works of the piano from memory.This leaves the question,What is the perfect repertoire?Ok,maybe this is a little to broad question. I was wondering however, what are some pieces you would include.So far,I would like to build upon the following:

From Bach,various pieces from the his preludes,Inventions,Goldberg Variations,and possibly some larger works.
From Beethoven all of his Bagatelles,and works from some of his sonatas.These might include the Waldstein,and possibly,if I have find the time,at least sections of Hammerklavier.
From Schumann,Carnival.
Chopin,so much to choose from.One thing I would like to learn is his valse's,esp op.15.
There are just so many things from him to learn.The first piece I ever learned from of Chopin was his Mazurka op.67(2).Which is why I would like to learn more of his mazurkas.
Liszt has always been a favorite composer of mine.What are some pieces you would recommend beyond his Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 ,or his Libestraum,Paganini Etudes and the ilk.
Rachmaninoff:Prelude in G,at least.
Some extra fun things.
Eubie Blakes "The Baltimore Todolo",various Jazz pieces and a few Joplin rags(Weeping Willow,and the Cascades to name a few).
Obviously,this list is fairly brief,which is why I am asking you, what would you put in your ideal,well balanced, repertoire?Comments,and suggestions would be appreciated.Obviously this list is pretty superficial,and it did not cover a lot of choral,chamber,and other adapted works for instance.

[ July 23, 2001: Message edited by: SethW ]

[ July 23, 2001: Message edited by: SethW ]

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#502304 - 07/23/01 11:49 PM Re: The perfect repertoire
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
Well, I'll comment on Bach and Mozart:

Bach: Italian Concerto

Two-Part Inventions:

1(C), 4(d), 6(E), 8(F), 13(a), 14(B-flat)


Fantasy in D minor, K. 397


D Major K. 284 (not as well known, 3rd mvt. one of the best sets of variations)
C Major, K. 330
A Major, K. 331 (3rd mvt. “Turkish Rondo”)
F Major, K.332
B-Flat Major, K. 333
C Minor, K. 457 (including Fantasy)
C Major, K. 545

(I actually prefer some of the early Mozart sonatas, but the above are sort of the most famous.)

Brendan can comment on Liszt and Alex on all the Bach I left out.

[ July 24, 2001: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

#502305 - 07/24/01 08:43 AM Re: The perfect repertoire
sandman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/13/01
Posts: 605
Loc: toronto

good question!!

from Bach I would pick Partita #4
Beethovan, definately sonata # 32.... the most perfect and beautiful peice of music in my opinion.
Chopin... there's lots... but my favorits are ballad #1
sonata # 2
sonata # 3
scherzo #3
mabey an etude or two as well.. op. 25 #5 i really like
I would also include Scriabin.. a favorite of mine that gets mentioned far to little on this board... vers la flame, I think is my favorite by him
And ravel, another favorite of mine.... the sonatine, or j'eux de l'eau, or even a couple peices from miroirs
schumann kreiserlena ( i think thats spelled right)...I think its his best piano score. but i also really like the humoresque.

hope this is insightful.

#502306 - 07/24/01 08:56 AM Re: The perfect repertoire
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Welcome on board, sandman!

Thanks for sharing your love of music. Me too, I'm a Scriabin fan. His music appears to be underappreciated somehow around here.

BTW, Schumann's Kreisleriana is also my favorite but difficult to pull through.

#502307 - 07/24/01 09:04 AM Re: The perfect repertoire
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
The Chopin Preludes and Schubert Impromptus are very important to me.

#502308 - 07/24/01 11:32 AM Re: The perfect repertoire
Alex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Plano, tx
This is an interesting topic. First off, I believe that you need to have some strategy involved as part of choosing the rep. For instance, typically you have to start playing "cold" - no warmup. Therefore, you need to have a piece that you can play cold to get started. It's rare that I can sit down cold and do any kind of justice to a chopin etude. Second, you need to think about how much rep you want to have ready. This means that not all pieces need to be difficult pieces. People love Tramerai (spelling?). The slow and melodic usually go over well. Third, you should have a bravura piece or two - the difficult ones that you can play after a little warm up. Fourth, you probably should have some famous pieces available to play.

The important thing to remember is not to choose all really difficult pieces. If you want to have all four ballades to play, you need to keep them ready. Rather, sneak some nocturnes and waltzes in there to add minutes. Play these a few times a week to keep under your fingers.

As for individual pieces - that's your call.

#502309 - 07/24/01 12:29 PM Re: The perfect repertoire
Vid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 1445
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
For the Bach I'm surprised noone has mentioned the Well Tempered Clavier. There are so many to choose from and even the preludes alone are great pieces to perform. From Book 1 the C-major, C-minor, C-sharp/D-flat? major, D-major, G-major, E-major...etc. etc. they're all great actually and C-minor, F-minor from Book 2 to name a few.

Of course your repertoire depends on what kind of performer you want to be. Some players tend to 'specialize' in an area such as playing mainly baroque pieces, while others tend to lean towards romantic works. Personally I think it is good to familiarize yourself with all the styles including the often neglected so-called 'modern' pieces. Rachmaninoff wasn't the only 20th Century composer for the piano (and was really Romantic in style anyways). One should also attempt to achieve some sort of balance in their programs. Mix things up a bit with serious pieces contrasting with lighter ones. A different mixture of styles is nice too. Too often people start off with Bach and move up historically to Mozart/Beethoven, and then maybe to Chopin/Liszt/Brahms. Remember that it doesn't have to be that way. A recital doesn't have to be like a piano exam.

Oh yes, I noticed a lack of Brahms in the list. Why not add one of his intermezzos (op. 117 and/or 118) and if you're feeling more ambitious perhaps one of his Rhapsodies - also his Hungarian Dances are popular/lighter works.
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

#502310 - 07/24/01 06:29 PM Re: The perfect repertoire
yok Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/01
Posts: 497
Loc: New Zealand
There is no perfect repertoire for everybody. Even the greatest pianists range from encyclopedists like Arrau and Richter who played almost everything to specialists like Rosalyn Tureck who decided early in her career to play only Bach. You should only perform music you are really devoted to. If you play works you don't really feel strongly about just for a sake of completeness or variety, your playing will lack conviction. That said, even if you only perform a narrow repertoire, it's a good idea to try as wide a range as possible in the study. For one thing, you never know how you will really respond to a piece until you play it yourself. Even if you finally don't like it, it increases your knowledge of the piano and its repertoire, and it improves your perspective on the pieces you do like.

Anyway, here are some composers and areas of the repertoire that haven't been mentioned yet which are worth exploring:

Spanish - Granados, Mompou, Albeniz
Russian - Tchaikovsy's Seasons, Rachmaninov, Mussorgsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev
Debussy, Faure, Poulenc, Messiaen

#502311 - 07/24/01 08:21 PM Re: The perfect repertoire
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5485
and how about mendelssohn's "songs without words"?

i especially love the first one.

now in paperback:

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

#502312 - 07/25/01 10:47 AM Re: The perfect repertoire
magnezium Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
Tchaikovsky's Seasons is really a very beautiful collection... very diverse in emotion as well as technical difficulty... and it's a real pleasure to play... but i don't think it'd entertain non-classical-music people...

#502313 - 07/25/01 01:14 PM Re: The perfect repertoire
wghornsby Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 201
Loc: KY
Originally posted by magnezium:
Tchaikovsky's Seasons is really a very beautiful collection... very diverse in emotion as well as technical difficulty... and it's a real pleasure to play... but i don't think it'd entertain non-classical-music people...[/b]

I sort of disagree with you. I think the Barcarolle of June stands out as being accessible to people unfamiliar with classical music. At least, I know it "goes over" well when I've played it, as opposed to some other pieces. fwiw.

#502314 - 07/26/01 07:36 AM Re: The perfect repertoire
magnezium Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
maybe...=] that Barcarolle is my favourite, btw...=]

#502315 - 07/26/01 10:26 AM Re: The perfect repertoire
Dan Offline

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 1031
Loc: Colorado

August from "The Seasons" is also a very cool piece that in my opinion has wide appeal.

It is certainly on my list to learn at any rate, and of all "The Seasons" it is first on the list.


#502316 - 07/26/01 10:50 AM Re: The perfect repertoire
magnezium Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
the Carnival (February) is also one of my favourites... though i usually don't like very cheerful pieces, this is an exception... it's kind of cute yet funny... somewhat like a scherzo maybe... and i think it should have general appeal too...

#502317 - 07/29/01 06:44 PM Re: The perfect repertoire
Amy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 433
Loc: Upstate New York
I'm a new member!
I think that a good concert program should start out with something Baroque then go to a classical sonata. I personally like Mozart's A minor or Beethoven's Appasionata. After that should be maybe a romantic. I like Liebestraume or anything Liszt. Next should be something Debussy. After that, something contemporary, maybe Ginastera's Danzas Argentinas. It is a good concert ender. If you want to do an encore I like the idea of playing Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# minor. He used to play that as an encore. I hope that helps!
*Visit my page! http://www.expage.com/pianopalace

#502318 - 07/30/01 07:42 AM Re: The perfect repertoire
BruceD Offline

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 20179
Loc: Victoria, BC
I see the recital that goes from Baroque, through Classical and Romantic to Impressionistic and/or Modern as serving a useful purpose in the context of an examination recital. Such a program shows the pianist's familiarity with and ability to cope with - to a greater or lesser degree - the styles of various periods. As a satisfying listening experience for the public and as a satisfying performing experience for the pianist, I see it as a concept whose time has long passed.

There are few pianists today who excel in all periods and, I would venture to say that there are few pianists who equally enjoy playing the music from all periods. Most of us have, if not composers, at least periods of music that we empathize with more than others. If the purpose of a recital is to communicate our joy, to express our sincerest feelings, it would seem to me that a recital focusing on what we do best is the most satisfying for all concerned.

In this context, chosing a composer or a pair of complementary/contrasting composers that one really enjoys playing would seem to me to be the more satisfying for the performer and the more rewarding for the listening public. Why struggle through a [insert composer's name] sonata or [insert genre] if you don't like the music of that composer or period, but feel you have to before you can get to the "good stuff" that you really do well. Why not reward yourself and your audience with your best?

I suppose that there are some who would say that the purpose of a recital is to please as many in your audience as possible, and therefore you should program as many different periods/styles as possible to cover all bases. I think that argument fails in the sense that, unless you are a superb pianist of amazingly broad talents, you are not giving your best to your audience. Why risk disappointing them and yourself, as well?

Again, in the context of an examination recital, the smorgasbord programme is a useful one. In the context of a pianist wanting to share his/her best with his/her listeners, I think it is somewhat out-dated. Don't current recital programmes of some of our better concert pianists bear this out?

My $.02 worth on this topic.

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