The musings of a final year medical student

Thursday, 11 June 2015

My favourite piano pieces

My friends and family know that I started playing piano aged 10 and have been obsessed ever since. Even though my piano teacher says I am naturally more suited to the fast tempos and feather-light broken-chord left-hand accompaniment of Mozart, I am far more attracted to the heavy, thick emotive chords associated with the romantic period. I find it so strange why classical music doesn't appeal to my generation, and I feel angry when my peers scoff at the fact that I'd much rather listen to Brahms than Beyoncé. Their loss.

The romantic period began in the early 19th century and bleeds into the impressionist era, which I am also a fan of. To me, these two periods tell a real story through their pieces. They resonate with feelings of euphoria, love and devastating sadness. I can relate so much more to piano music than music accompanied by lyrics as they are open to much more interpretation.

Here I've listed just a few of my favourite pieces written:

Debussy - Clair de lune - an absolutely beautiful piece. Probably Debussy's most famous piece. It is so tranquil. Debussy was an impressionist composer, so some of his stuff gets a bit too weird for my liking! This is one of the pieces I play the most often.

Liszt  -  Consolation no. 3 - This piece so so tender and beautiful. It moves from such sweet moments to real sadness, and the link provided is performed by current favourite living pianist, Valentina Lisitsa. I have played a few pieces by Liszt and his work can be particularly challenging, especially because he had a phenomenal note span and so he could play a lot more than most of us mere mortals physically can! I always play this piece when I am stressed.

Rachmaninoff - Prelude in g minor op.23 no.5 - What an amazing piece. I love the rondo structure of this piece and how the sections are manipulated versions of each other, so clever. The contrast of sections allows a really special exploration of emotions. 

Chopin nocturne op.32 no.2 in A flat - Chopin is my favourite composer because of the consistency of how lovely his nocturnes are (nocturnes or notturnos are pieces meant to be likened to the night time). This piece is part of the ballet Les Sylphides. 

Chopin waltz op.70 no.1 - to me, the pianist Arthur Rubinstein does the best interpretative performances of Chopin's piano pieces. I studied ballroom dance when I was younger and I would have loved to have danced a waltz to such a pretty and light-hearted piece. 

Beethoven piano sonata no.6 op.10 - This is brilliant. Technically challenging, I struggled with this piece for a long time and still do! It was on the grade eight list when I did it, but I chose to do Mozart instead. I learnt it in my spare time. Like the other pieces, I like the contrast in all the sections and manipulation of melodies put into different textures. 

Chopin nocturne op.9 no.3 - arguably Chopin's most famous piece ever written. Beautiful, delicate and moving. I love playing this piece. I played a simplified version of this aged 11, but to now play the original feels like such a privilege. 

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