Rank #1: Beethoven: (Moonlight Sonata 1st Movement) Op. 27, No. 2 Adagio Sostenuto
An all-time favorite of so many people... including my father. I recorded this in a music room while at college as a Father's day gift for my dad. This is one of his favorite works. Please note that this recording only includes the famous 1st movement.
Rank #2: Bach: (Ave Maria) Prelude in C Major
I play this one much more slowly than most do... I guess I just like it that way. This piece has been arranged, re-arranged, and arranged again for many instruments and combinations of instruments. It is definitely a "classic" and is often heard at weddings and other significant events.
Rank #3: Beethoven: (Fur Elise or For Elise) Bagatelle in A Minor - WoO 59
This is perhaps the best known classical piano piece of all time - and, ironically, one of the least popular among many pianists due to its over-popularity.
This work was written as a "Bagatelle" which is simply a "trifle" or a short and simple piece. The history behind the work is quite controversial because the title translates to "For Elise" and "Elise" was not a name of any known acquaintance of Beethoven's. This has led many to speculate that he had a secret lover, or that "Elise" was a secret name for another woman, or that "Elise" had other hidden meanings. The speculation can, and most certainly will, go on forever. One of the better theories is that the actual title was "For Therese" but that the individual who discovered the work misread the title. This theory makes more sense because there was a student of Beethoven's named "Therese" who he had proposed to at one point.
This recording was completed at my home on my studio upright piano. I hope you enjoy my recording of Beethoven's famous (or infamous - depending on your view) "Fur Elise"!
Rank #4: Mozart: Sonata in F Major K. 300k (332) - Complete
This is simply a compilation of the last three recordings put together to make the entire sonata. I also adjusted the volume to make it a little louder.
Rank #5: Debussy: (Moonlight) Clair de Lune
It's finally here! I've had a request for the popular "Clair de lune" more times than any other work. I finally committed to recording this a couple of weeks ago and here it is! I hope that my interpretation and recording will not be a disappointment to those who have patiently waited.
Clair de Lune, translated as "moonlight" is one of Debussy's most popular pieces. It is a beatiful work that has much room for interpretation. In fact, the debates about how this work should be played can become quite heated. Although it was composed in 1882, it was not published until 1926.
Apparently, this piece has had a resurgence of popularity due to the release of the movie Twilight - as it appears as a bonus track on the movie's soundtrack. I've never seen the movie, but if you have, and you liked it, then maybe this recording will mean even more to you.
This recording was completed in my home on my Steinway A III piano. I hope that you enjoy it!
Rank #6: Chopin: (Cantabile) Cantabile in B-flat major, B.84
A beautiful, short piece by Chopin... his "Cantabile" in B-flat is a well-known work that provides a few subtle challenges wrapped in simple melody and carried by enchanting harmonies.
I hope that you enjoy my recording of this work - recorded at home on my 1941 Steinway AIII.
Rank #7: Chopin: (Raindrop Prelude) Prelude in D-flat Major Op. 28 No. 15
This piece was the first classical work that I fell in love with. In fact, this was the gateway that led to my love for the piano and my endeavor to study and practice. I heard it as "background" music for a popular Japanese film (I believe it was titles "Dreams") back in high school. Upon hearing the music, I went home and rummaged through my mother's sheet music collection until I found a copy of this piece. I played it over and over until I had committed it to memory. Although this was not the "tipping point" for me and the piano, it was definitely a key point in my love for classical music.
Rank #8: Liszt: (Evening Harmonies) Transcendental Etude No. 11
This recording is a live performance given at a solo recital in January of 2003. The recording was made on a nine-foot concert grand piano in a small recital hall.
This Etude was the first of Liszt's transcendental Etudes that I studied. I fell in love with the harmonies and chord progressions that Liszt uses in this piece. It also happened to be the piece that I was working on when I first met my wife. For that fact, this work is among our favorites.
Rank #9: Liszt: (Liebestraume - Dream of Love - Love Dreams) Nocturne in A flat Major No. 3
This piece I have always lovingly dedicated to my grandmother. During the Great Depression, she used to listen to this song and it would uplift and lighten her spirit. She often requested that I perform this piece at her funeral. Her request was humbly granted at the time of her passing.
This piece is one of Liszt's most popular piano pieces and remains a personal favorite of mine.
Rank #10: Chopin: Waltz in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 64, No. 2
This is one of Chopin's most famous Waltzes. It was composed sometime between 1846 and 1847. The piece is marked with the term "tempo guisto" - which means "strict time." When I recorded this piece I interpreted that to mean that any rubato should be limited to within a brief scope, probably that of a single bar. While this may be the case, I have since learned that it was more likely intended to indicate that the Waltz should not be played in the Viennese tradition which rushes slightly into the second beat.
My studies of this piece are notably rushed and I debated whether or not to release this - obviously I ended up deciding to put it out. Perhaps in the future I will re-record this after having devoted a more appropriate amount of time to learning the piece. For now, however, this will have to do! I hope that you enjoy my recording of Chopin's Waltz in C-sharp Minor!
Rank #11: Chopin: Prelude in E Minor Op. 28 No. 4
Rank #12: Schubert: Impromptu No. 4 in A flat Major
Rank #13: Beethoven: (Pathetique - Patetica 2nd Movement) Sonata Op. 13 No. 8: II Adagio cantabile
This recording is the 2nd movement of Beethoven's popular Sonata Pathetique Op. 13 No. 8. The second movement is Adagio cantabile. "Cantabile" indicates that this movement should be played like a song, or something that has a distinct melody that one could sing along with. This piece was composed in 1798 and published the following year.
You can read further commentary on this piece, including a dedicatory note by visiting this page of my piano blog.
This selection was recorded at my home on my studio upright piano.
Rank #14: Chopin: (Black Keys Etude) Etude in G flat Major Op. 10 No. 5
My daughter loves to play pretend while I play this one. She pretends that she is chasing butterflies... I think that is a perfect use of imagery for this piece. It is commonly called the "black keys" etude because the right hand plays almost exclusively the black keys of the piano. It is a light, but fast-paced etude that is very enjoyable to listen to and probably even more enjoyable to play.
Rank #15: Schumann: Fantasy in C Major Op. 17 III Lento Sostenuto
This is a recording of the third movement/section of Schumann's masterpiece, Fantasy in C. This movement is one of my all-time favorite works in the piano literature. Edited by his wife, Clara, this work was originally dedicated to Franz Liszt, although later editions did not include the dedication.
I view this as a highly passionate and energetic work, despite the deceptively (in some ways) slower-paced tempo throughout this movement. The listener will find a great number of ways to interpret and digest the music presented in this recording, just as I have found so many ways of interpreting it as the performer.
I hope that you enjoy my recording of Schumann's Fantasy in C, Opus 17.
Rank #16: Bach: Well Tempered Clavier: Prelude in C Major Original Version
This is a re-recording from my first, "Ave Maria" version of this prelude. I decided to record this work again in the original form which omits measure 23 of my previous recording.
This false measure found its way into many well-known publications despite the fact that it is not authentic. I discovered this several months ago after purchasing Alfred's wonderful edition of the Well Tempered Clavier (book 1). I realized that my first recording was incorrect and decided that I should eventually remake the recording. Several weeks ago I had an astute listener further convince me when he pointed out that my recording was incorrect. So I have finally buckled down and recorded this beautiful prelude in its original form, but still with my own flair.
Rank #17: Debussy: (Two Arabesques for Piano) Deux Arabesques: I
This arabaseque is the first of two arabesques that are associated together (although they were composed several years apart). It was written while Debussy was still rather young (26 years old) and is not considered to be representative of his impressionist style that is generally associated with his name. However, there are certain aspects of his style that are apparent even in this early work.
For study, I used Alfred's Masterwork Edition edited by Lynn Freeman Olson.
This recording is dedicated to the Robertsons who acted as my parents-away-from-home while I lived in Japan for two years doing volunteer missionary service for my church. Thank you for your compassion, patience, love, and sincere friendship.
This recording was completed at home on my studio upright. This piece was particularly difficult to record on my upright due to the sensitive dynamics present throughout the work. Much of the interpretation and have attempted to convey is lost in the limitations of the piano. If you have enjoyed my recordings, please consider being apart of improving future recordings by signing my piano! If not, I hope you will still continue to enjoy the free music :)
Rank #18: Chopin: Nocturne in E Minor Op. 72, No. 1 (posthumous)
This Nocturne was one of Chopin's earliest known Nocturnes and was composed in 1827 when Chopin was only 17 years old. However, Chopin never desired the work to be published and so it was not published until 1855 after his death.
This work is one of my favorite of Chopin's Nocturnes. It was recorded at my home on my studio upright. If you enjoy listening to this piece, please consider making a donation towards my future Steinway Model B Piano.
Rank #19: MacDowell: (To a Wild Rose) Woodland Sketches Op. 51, No. 1
This is a very well-known melody by the American composer, Edward MacDowell. He has wonderful music, including this piece, and I encourage pianists everywhere to get to know his music. I hope to record several more of his works over the coming months and years.
This piece is often played as prelude or postlude in churches or for weddings. It has a beautiful melody and is accompanied by an equally beautiful harmonic progression.
As my first recording of an American composer, I hope that you enjoy it!
Rank #20: Rachmaninoff: Prelude in G Minor Op. 23 No. 5
This was my first competition-piece. I didn't do very well ;) My mother tried to encourage me to play the piano by offering me $25 to learn this piece. I refused for several months until finally my sister brought me a recording of it. After listening to the recording, I just couldn't keep myself from learning to play it. This piece was one of the stepping stones into my love for the piano and thus holds a unique place in my heart.