Top 5 Contemporary Piano Sonatas: #1

#1: Ives - Sonata No. 2 “Concord, Mass., 1840-60” (1915) Well, here we are at the end of the “Top 5” sonata-ranking journey. And though this is the fifteenth sonata I’m writing about, I think I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve already written extensively about the Concord Sonata: in program notes for my junior... Continue Reading →

Top 5 Contemporary Piano Sonatas: #3

#3: Barber – Sonata in E-flat minor, Op. 26 (1949) It’s telling that when I was thinking about my initial ranking of contemporary sonatas, before I had scouted out more obscure pieces, my first thought was “OK, so where is Barber going to end up?” It’s popular, and justly so. But is it a masterpiece?... Continue Reading →

Top 5 Contemporary Piano Sonatas: #4

#4: Dutilleux - Piano Sonata (1948) Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013) deserves more recognition. He was a consummate craftsman, and, in the tradition of Brahms or Dukas, he wrote a lot more than he published, serving as his own tough critic. But the modest output available to us is full of extremely high-quality music.  His orchestral works... Continue Reading →

Top 5 Contemporary Piano Sonatas: #5

There was no right way to title this category, and I think that’s a testament to how wonderfully complicated and diverse concert music has become in the last hundred years or so. I could have called the category “20th Century and Beyond,” but there was some downright Romantic music composed in the twentieth century, and... Continue Reading →

Top 5 Sonatas from the Romantic Period: #1

#1: Liszt - Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (1854) At some point in the mid-nineteenth century, European composers were facing a serious aesthetic divide. Some historians call it the War of the Romantics, as if classical music could be that exciting. In one camp were Wagner, Liszt, and other composers undertaking grand experiments in... Continue Reading →

Top 5 Sonatas from the Romantic Period: #2

#2: Schubert - Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960 (1828) It’s probably worth mentioning that this piece is one of my all-time favorites. I started playing it in high school, polished it in college, and continue to play through it (especially the second movement) when I need a good pianistic catharsis. Another thing worth mentioning:... Continue Reading →

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