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Thread: greatest contemporary solo piano works

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    Default greatest contemporary solo piano works

    Solo works only.

    Don't include anything Ravel, Debussy, Satie, Prokofiev, and so on.

    Strictly modern. I want to learn more about where piano has come since the olden days of melody and harmony. I know there is a whole gigantic world of this music out there however I don't have the means to access it.

    :

    I'll start with an obvious one.

    Gyorgy Ligeti - Etudes

    Whew. Great stuff. This is growing to become one of my favorites.

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    Nobuo Uematsu has made some piano solos I really like.

    A Return, Indeed... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu3bbpZmMA4

    To Zanarkand http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSWWyCiX6E8

    Waterside http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbDT33VJGXU

    Hope this isn't blasphemy! But I really enjoy them.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Check this thread out:

    Piano Music: 1953-present

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    Junior Member Pierrot Lunaire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vamos View Post
    I'll start with an obvious one.

    Gyorgy Ligeti - Etudes

    Whew. Great stuff. This is growing to become one of my favorites.
    Same here. It's one of my favorite piano works. Actually, I'd say most don't come close to Ligeti's Études. Well, maybe a few. Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jésus by Messiaen and Triadic Memories by Feldman come to mind. Probaby something by Xenakis or Carter too. You set the bar pretty high though.

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    Pierre Boulez's legendary 2nd Piano Sonata

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    Traidic Memories is one of my favorites as well. Intriguing work.

    I've got some major recommendations to make, both rather obscure but genuinely great finds.

    1. Howard Skempton

    Described as the emancipator of consonance - Schoenberg the emancipator of dissonance.

    "Skempton's style is characterized by a concentration on the quality of sound and an economy of means,[10] absence of development in the conventional sense, and concentration on sonority.[2] Many pieces are also quite short, lasting no longer than one or two minutes.[11] Although the compositional methods are clearly experimental (involving, for example, aleatory), there is a marked emphasis on the melody in many pieces,[2] and already some of the earlier piano works (Saltaire Melody (1977), Trace (1980)) quickly became favorites of the public.[6]
    Formative influences on Skempton's music included Erik Satie, John Cage and Morton Feldman.[2] For example, A Humming Song (1967), an early piano piece composed before Skempton started lessons with Cardew, is a miniature with static, gentle sound. The harmonic structure consists of eight symmetrically arranged pitches, out of which six are selected for use in the piece. Chance procedures are then used to determine the order and number of occurrences of individual pitches. The pianist is asked to sustain certain pitches by humming.[12] Another early piece, Drum No. 1 (1969), composed for the Scratch Orchestra, consists of just a few written instructions to the performers and is clearly inspired by similarly realized works by La Monte Young, whose music Cardew was enthusiastically propagating in the late 1960s.[13] The score of May Pole (1971), a piece for orchestra, consists of a chance determined sequence of chords. Each performer chooses a note from a chord, and chooses the moment when to play that note; the later, the softer the dynamics.[14] Skempton later called such pieces "landscapes" that "simply project the material as sound, without momentum."[15] Other early works include two pieces for tape, a medium Skempton rarely used later: Indian Summer (1969) and Drum No. 3 (1971)."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Skempton#Works

    He reminds me of a modern update on the aesthetic of Satie. I find his work to be the closest thing to what I imagine a modern piano work should be. I really like the dissonant music that many have created for piano and the explorations of timbre and so on - but I want to see a return to explorations of pure beauty and melody in harmony utilizing the things we've discovered over the past century.

    Example of his piano music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoyxF6M2uog

    There are very few recordings that I'm aware of. The one with John Tilbury (from AMM) playing his music is the one I plan to purchase.

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    Senior Member Webernite's Avatar
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    Carter's Night Fantasies?

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    Quote Originally Posted by vamos View Post
    Gyorgy Ligeti - Etudes
    I've analysed the first one and now I have to analyse the third for my analysis module. Do you have any opinions or useful facts about either of these specific etudes?

    I love them too. Can you hear the melody in Bulgarian rhythm in Desordre? What an amazing piece! The right hand is in the heptatonic scale and the left hand is in the pentatonic.
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Whatever the left hand starts doing towards the end of the first half... love that part.

    I've skimmed through an online analysis... I believe this is what I read:

    https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~tkunze/p...re/ligeti.html

    It doesn't make sense to me at all. I'm a neophyte right now and I can't make sense out of most of what they're talking about. Come back to me in a year or so and hopefully I'll be far from where I am now...

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    Have had a relatively conservative taste so far as regards this subject (less so in concertante / ensemble works with a piano actually). Might be too conservative for you, but some recordings that have given me much & are a joy to return to are

    - Boulez: 1st Sonata (Aimard, Erato. A very light, almost impressionistic rendering)
    - Shostakovich: Preludes & Fugues (especially the selection recorded by Sho`vich himself);
    - Roger Woodward`s Etcetera- and Ogawa´s BIS-recording of Takemitsu works, such as "Les Yeux
    Clos" etc.;
    - Holmboe: The piano suite "Suono da Bardo" - the early Fona-LP issue by Anker Blyme is better and
    more atmospheric than his later Danacord-CD;
    - Nørgård has written two fine piano sonatas as well; at least the 2nd is also available on CD, both on
    LP;
    - Niels Viggo Bentzon: Piano sonatas 4+5;
    - Lubos Fiser´s sonatas (less the "Devil´s Sonata" on you-t than his 4th though, on a Wergo LP played
    by Volker Banfield);
    - Beatrice Rauch´s Gubajdulina CD on BIS, far superior and more engaged than any other ...


    Some works that I plan to explore more are Sorabji´s, Messiaen´s "Catalogue des Oiseaux", and at least I´ll get somewhat better acquainted with Jean Barraque´s Piano Sonata ...

    Whereas Tishchenko´s and Boris Tchaikovsky´s piano sonatas seem very disappointing, too simple in general, like Silvestrov´s works ...

    Concerning these Russians, there are couple of Boris Arapov´s sonatas available on you-tube, they are more in the Scriabin- and Prokofiev-vein though and played by Sokolov (they were uploaded quite recently):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJA7c...eature=related

    This is what immediately comes to mind, though ...
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jan-10-2011 at 20:55.

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    I'm probably even more conservative, but have enjoyed:

    1. Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated
    2. R. Stevenson: Passacaglia on DSCH
    3. J. Dillon: Book of Elements

    and would certainly second the Shostakovitch Preludes and Fugues and the Messiaen Vingt Regards.

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    Rzewski has already been mentioned, but I will add my agreement.

    Silvestrov's Bagatellen und Serenaden have not been mentioned, and might not be if I don't. They are pretty, something like a contemporary Grieg or Satie, just light music. Getting too close to "new age" music for some people.

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    Rautavaara's etudes and sonatas (especially the second piano sonata, "The Fire Sermon").

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    If a guy who died in 1991 is recent enough for you, Turkish composer Saygun wrote some excellent piano music. He covered a wide range of the modern trends/styles, some of the 12 Preludes on Askak Rhythms remind me a bit of Ligeti, actually. I have enjoyed the disc below:



    BTW, no-one has mentioned Cage's Sonatas & Interludes for prepared piano, which I have not as yet heard, but obviously they are significant items in the late c20th repertoire...

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    Mid-century, Andre (1946-48), not late. Significant, yes!

    John Cage, The Perilous Night
    John Cage, Etudes Australes
    George Brecht, Incidental Music
    Annea Lockwood, Piano Burning
    LaMonte Young, The Well Tuned Piano
    Tom Johnson, An Hour for Piano
    Karlheinz Stockhausen, Klavierstueck nr. 9
    Walter Marchetti, Nei Mari Del Sud
    Walter Marchetti, De Musicorum Infelicitate
    Ross Bolleter, Secret Sandhills
    Hans Tutschku, Zellen-Linien

    A few of the many things done to and with a piano.

    The first Cage is for prepared piano, the second is for independent left and right hands.

    The Brecht is from the Water Music Fluxus box. I've performed this several times.

    The Lockwood is just that, a piano set on fire.

    The Young is a kind of correction, as it were, of the Wohltemperierte Klavier. A kind of going back to natural tuning rather than equal tuning.

    The Johnson is an early minimal piece with a text to read while you're listening to the music.

    The Stockhausen opens with 144 repetitions of a chord.

    The first Marchetti is a computer randomisation of piano chords, far as I can tell. (Online descriptions of Marchetti as well as CD liner notes are frustratingly obscure (and sometimes just plain wrong).) The second is a long piano piece of several smaller bits that break off abruptly and start up again. I'm listening to it as I type.

    The Bolleter is one of the longer ruined piano pieces, a journey that started in 1987 at the Nallan Sheep Station, where Bolleter recorded himself improvising on a ruined piano that had ended up in tractor shed. Bolleter would go on to found WARPS, the World Association for Ruined Pianos Studies, which includes a large park where ruined pianos can continue to decay.

    The Tutschku is also a prepared piano piece, but not physically like Cowell or Cage or Bunger. In his piece(es), a microphone picks up the piano sound and routes it through a computer, which alters the sound in real time.
    Last edited by some guy; Jan-11-2011 at 07:30. Reason: Error corrected

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