Today, March 28th, is Piano Day 2020 - check out: https://www.pianoday.org It's a worldwide celebration of all things piano set up back in 2015 by German pianist and composer, Nils Frahm. It falls on the 88th day of the year! (There are 88 keys on a piano keyboard!) It's a chance for people around the world who love the piano to celebrate and share some fantastic music.
We that in mind, I'd love to share with you some of the piano music that has, for one reason or another, meant so much to me over the years. Here are just five of my top recommendations...
It will come as no surprise to anyone who's followed my music that I have to include a piece by Adrian Snell. Put simply, his music is one of the reasons I do what I do. This tour de force is a relentless, ostinato-driven depiction of Christ's crucifixion, taken from the seminal album, "The Passion."
If you're not familiar with Lyle Mays, do check out my previous reflections on this genius of contemporary jazz, who sadly passed away recently. This piece is a breathtaking and astoundingly beautiful ballad which showcases his effortless command of the piano. It's an extraordinary work that blurs the boundaries between improvisation and composition. It's melodically gorgeous and harmonically inventive with positively Chopinesque passages.
It's Bach - 'nuff said! Perfect mathematical structure. So much conveyed with only two voices.
As a young student, I loved learning and playing this piece. Perhaps that's because I also love the guitar. I studied classical guitar for some time but never had the profiency (or the fingernails) to really do this work justice on that instrument so I was delighted to discover a piano version that gave me access to a whole new world of expression.
For anyone learning to play the piano in the years after after Paul Newman and Robert Redford made the Oscar winning film, "The Sting", learning to play "The Entertainer" was something of a rite of passage. I loved all that ragtime stride piano and Scott Joplin was the pre-eminent writer of so many recognisable tunes. It was only later, at music college, that I dug deeper into his life and work and discovered the tragic life behind so much joyous music. However, although it's good fun to blast through his ragtime pieces with all the bravado of a Wild West saloon pianist, Joplin wanted his work taken more seriously. His sheet music often included the admonition: "Not too fast. It is never right to play ragtime fast." And it's true! Sometimes, dispensing with the pyrotechnics and playing these pieces with a more considered approach reveals a different side - a more wistful melancholy. This piece, "Solace", was always one of my favourites!
What are your favourite examples of the piano repertoire?