A powerhouse in the classical music genre, the piano provides us a full and euphonious musical tapestry even in solo settings. Whether you choose classical piano music for studying, dining, or out of sheer appreciation of the instrument, here are some celebrated tracks that are sure to strike a chord.
Considered one of the leading interpreters of contemporary piano repertoire, Japanese-Canadian pianist Yoko Hirota tackles a challengingly sporadic piece from Elliot Carter. Written in celebration of composer Goffredo Petrassi’s 90th birthday, 90+ utilizes 90 staccato and sustained notes juxtaposed between conflicting voicings to create a dissonant and technically sound composition.
“I hope my album SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: MINIATURE PIANO PIECES will help the listeners discover such small (short) pieces can be so exquisite and stand as concert repertoire. It’s like a short poem in which each word is important and creates a universe of its own. The pieces in my album are similar to that. Each one expresses the intense character and universe of its composer.”
Pianist Yoko Hirota
The Inside Story: Yoko Hirota and SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
Nocturne Op 9 No. 2
Rio de Janeiro-born pianist Eliane Rodrigues is no stranger to performing classical music’s most recognizable melodies. Rodrigues delicately executes Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne Op 9 No. 2, a tender composition that replicates the feelings of a romantic evening.
“As a toddler I was very touched each time I listened to music. It was as if the composers were whispering their own experiences from their lives through their music. Getting older these feelings of connection only became stronger. The importance of sharing this feeling with everybody is what drives me.”
Pianist Eliane Rodrigues
Eliane Rodrigues and THE GERSHWIN & BERNSTEIN CONNECTION
Carnival Music: II. Blues
Pianist Roberta Rust’s performance of Carnival Music: II. Blues infuses the language and feel of the blues in a classical context with tonal and freely chromatic licks scattered throughout. Written by George Rochberg, this piece was composed with six improvisations on a blues form and retains an improvised tone within its carefully crafted borders.
“Having met all of these composers—some I have known for years and very well—my performances are informed by a direct connection to them… Open your heart, mind, and spirit to music which you may be unfamiliar with and encourage others to continue on the journey of discovery in musical art throughout their lifetimes.”
Pianist Roberta Rust
The Inside Story: Roberta Rust and DIRECT CONTACT
First Modern Suite
Composer Edward MacDowell performed his First Modern Suite at the 1882 Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein in Zürich, after Franz Liszt lobbied to include the young American on the program. Now in the hands of pianist Richard Fountain, this suite still stands as a noteworthy piece of American composition, with frolicking lines in the pianos upper register grounded by Fountain’s steady left hand.
“I hope this album reminds us to look around our communities and institutions here in the U.S. to find the great music that’s been written and continues to be written all the time, and to celebrate it along with the great works of Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, etc.”
Pianist Richard Fountain
The Inside Story: Richard Fountain and AMERICAN IVORY
Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus No. 4: Regard de la Vierge
Named to the order of Canada in 2020 for her celebrated career as a classical and contemporary pianist, Christina Quilico performs Olivier Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus, a piece that describes through music witnesses’ reactions to Jesus in the manger.
“I would like audiences to feel how Debussy, Messiaen, and Boulez were exceptional painters in musical sounds, discovering new combinations of color, form, and line. They were visionaries – ahead of their time but with strong links to the past, each propelled by his unique imagination, musicality, and passion.”
Pianist Christina Quilico