10 Classical Music Pieces I’ve Loved this Year (2017)

Now that we’re in December, I’ve started to reflect on the year. One thing I was thinking about was my favorite music from this year – the tunes I listened to over and over again. I thought it might be fun to do a video on that topic, sharing with you my personal 10 favorite Classical pieces that I discovered (or re-discovered) this year.

Share your favorites in the comments below!

Ravel: Jeux D’eau

This is a tune I fell in love with when creating the Impressionism in Music video. It was one of many pieces I put on a Spotify playlist for the video, and I found myself listening to it constantly.

Jeux D’eau flows like water (the title translates to Water Games), and has this harp-like, ethereal feel to it. It’s a little magical, and sparkles with radiance.

Martha Argerich has a great version on YouTube which I urge you to check out.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_36x1_LKgg[/embedyt]

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Jeux d’eau
Composed by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). Edited by Maurice Hinson. Masterworks; Piano Solo; Solo. Alfred Masterwork Edition. Impressionistic; Masterwork. 16 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.6328).

Tchaikovsky: The Seasons

I recently picked up Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons for piano, and have become mildly obsessed with the entire collection. I like it all, but October is a lovely place to start. It’s got this dreary, gray autumn day vibe to it. It’s moody and romantic, and accompanied me on many a stroll outside.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLBDaZCUeRs[/embedyt]

Video credits:

Performer: Charles Ko

Copyright: Attribution 3.0 Unported

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Tchaikovsky — The Seasons
Composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). Edited by Maurice Hinson. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork Edition. Masterwork; Romantic. Book. 64 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.4826).

Albeniz: Asturias

Albeniz’s Asturias, from his Suite Espanola op. 47, is such a great tune. In fact, if I’m remembering correctly, it was one of the tunes I featured on “Classical Music for People Who Don’t Like Classical Music”.

My favorite version isn’t actually for piano, which it was originally written for, but the acoustic guitar. It’s got this intense minor-key sound, with these dramatic pops of volume. So fun to listen to, and appealing to all kinds of listeners!

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inBKFMB-yPg[/embedyt]

Video credits

Performer: Gordon Rowland

Copyright: Public Domain Mark 1.0

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Suite Espanola, Opus 47 (for Piano)
Composed by Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909). Classical Period. Collection. Composed 1886. 50 pages. Published by International Music Company (IM.834).

Debussy: La Cathedrale Engloutie

This solo piano piece is one of my favorites from Debussy’s Preludes (which I recently picked up for piano, and hope to get into at some point). I really like ambient, mysterious piano music that is simultaneously relaxing to listen to, but also haunting and a little magical.

We’ve talked about The Sunken Cathedral before on this channel, since it’s a very well-known Debussy piece. Definitely check it out. It starts out dark and mysterious, then opens up in a big way that feels like a glorious sunrise.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAVyKDDsM3s[/embedyt]

Video credits

Performer: European Archive

Copyright: Public Domain Mark 1.0

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Debussy — Preludes, Book 1
Composed by Claude Debussy (1862-1918). Edited by Maurice Hinson. Book; CD; Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork CD Edition. Form: Prelude. Impressionistic; Masterwork. 64 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.37138).

Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2

This isn’t a new discovery for me – more like an old favorite that I dug up and rediscovered. I have a great memory of being on a road trip this summer and blasting this tune at random, because Mike and I were talking about Liszt for some reason. It was just as breathless and exciting as I remembered, and I’ve been enjoying it again ever since.

I highly recommend checking out Valentina Lisitsa’s version on YouTube – it’s so much fun!

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdH1hSWGFGU[/embedyt]

Video credits

Performer: Martha Goldstein

Attribution Sharealike 3.0 Unported

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Rhapsodies Hongroises – Book 1: Nos. 1 – 8
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Rafael Joseffy. Piano Collection. Rhapsody, Hungarian, Classical, Romantic. 92 pages. G. Schirmer #LB1033. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.50257480).

Schumann: Piano Concerto no. 2

One of my favorite listens from my September Classical challenge was Schumann’s Piano Concerto no. 2. During that challenge, I listened to some Classical music every day (there’s a Spotify playlist if you’d like to check it out). This listening exercise spanned all the way from Baroque to more modern music, and it was lots of fun.

You can definitely tell what kind of music I’ve been favoring – lots of solo piano, and with a minor-key intensity. Most of the movements in this Concerto are very fast-paced and invigorating.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7p4gJKfT5c[/embedyt]

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Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
2 Pianos, 4 Hands Piano Reduction – 2 Copies Needed to Perform. Composed by Robert Schumann. Edited by Peter Jost. Henle Music Folios. Classical. Softcover. 88 pages. G. Henle #HN660. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480660).

George Winston: Carol of the Bells

George Winston is a modern composer (so I can’t show you a recording of his music because of copyright law), and he writes for solo piano – everything from jazz to more new-agey style writing. And since it’s the Christmas season, I’ve been really enjoying his version of Carol of the Bells, which is obviously one of the best Christmas songs.

He’s got a million albums and any one of them are worth checking out, but “December” is particularly relevant to this season, and what I’ve been enjoying lately.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbNuKLuN8y4[/embedyt]

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George Winston Piano Solos
By George Winston. Piano Solo Personality. Exact transcriptions from the recordings, authorized by George Winston. New Age. Songbook (softcover). With standard notation, fingerings and introductory text (does not include words to the songs). 104 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.306822).

Frederic Chopin: Raindrop Prelude

Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude is super-famous, and it was one I had spent some time listening to prior to this year. But this year I really revisited it. Partly because I did that video series on Chopin’s 24 Preludes earlier this year, and also partly because it was a piece I adjudicated for music festival, which brought it back into my consciousness.

This really is a fantastic piece. Again, I’m showing my favoritism for solo piano and intense, minor-key sounds, but there’s something so lovely about when this piece transitions to those big minor key moments in the middle.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmXjrkdQatw[/embedyt]

Video credits

Performed by: Jeannette Fang

Copyright: Public Domain Mark 1.0

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Chopin – Preludes
Composed by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). Edited by Brian Ganz. Schirmer Performance Editions. Classical. Softcover Audio Online. 96 pages. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.296523).

Bach: Inventions

I want to make a shout-out to Bach’s Inventions. I wasn’t listening to these because they’re so marvelous to listen to (though they’re cool enough), but I listened to them a whole bunch when I was working through his inventions. I got through the first four or so before I got bored and put the book aside (I’ll revisit them again), but this was worth mentioning since I did listen to them so much to really burn them in my mind (and/or ear).

Inventions are really great for the brain to learn, because they involve two melodies (instead of 1 melody and 1 harmony). It makes them interesting to listen to as well.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpgEPdidSfE[/embedyt]

Video credits

Invention no. 1 in C major

Performed by: B. Milanese

Copyright: Attribution 3.0 Unported

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Bach — Inventions & Sinfonias (2 & 3 Part Inventions)
By Valery Lloyd-Watts. By Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Edited by Willard A. Palmer. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork CD Edition. Baroque; Masterwork. Book & CD. 116 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.22521).

Charles Alkan: Etude no. 12

If I want to listen to something really technically amazing, something that fires me up inside, it’s Alkan’s 12th etude. I’ll link a really great YouTube recording of this video in the blog. It starts sort of innocuously, but the many variations get more and more insane.

Charles Alkan was a composer I knew very little about prior to the last year or so. It’s been really fun discovering his wildly virtuosic music.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m52MJ6hJx3I[/embedyt]


I hope you enjoyed this selection of Classical music I’ve been loving this year! I’m also interested to know what kind of music you’ve really been enjoying this year, so please feel free to share in the comments.