Looking Ahead: Classical Pieces

The other night I sat down to take a good look at what I’m currently working on and what I’d like to work on at some point in the future. A lot of the time, I choose the pieces I do simply because I stumbled upon them by accident and found them to incredibly beautiful or moving. I try not to think of difficulty too much at this point since I value how it sounds much more than how difficult it is generally considered.

As luck would have it, most of these pieces are generally not terribly easy. But ever since I’ve stepped into etudes, I’ve found that I have a new sense of confidence in learning these pieces. Here’s how my list looks currently:

  • Chopin Etude, op 10. no.9 (left hand extensions): My first etude! This is a beautiful etude that I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s all memorised and apart from a hiccup or two on page 2, it’s mostly done. I’m currently just working on ironing those out and making it second nature.
  • Chopin Etude, op. 25 no. 12 (Ocean – arpeggios): This one is very much still in the construction phase but progress is constant, even if slow. I was never made to do arpeggio exercises as a little kid somehow, so I’m learning a lot of this from scratch. It’s certainly not an easy etude but after hearing Pollini’s recording, I’m just so inspired to be able to play it that way someday.
  • Debussy, Reverie: A lovely piece that I stumbled on and decided to learn it as my “easy” piece while working on the etude. Ha. Little did I know that not having done a Debussy before, his harmonies would pull out the rug from beneath me. It was an interesting journey for sure. Now, I’m working on memorising this one.
  • Bach Prelude in B flat minor (WTC I – BWV 867)I’ve only just recently completed this one. When I first heard it I couldn’t believe it was by Bach. Despite its deceptive simplicity, there’s just so much going on – both in voicing and just emotional depth. What sealed the deal for me to learn this piece was Glenn Gould’s recording of this. It’s slow but it’s completely captivating. I’m working on voicing and memorising this piece at the moment and he’s the standard I’m aspiring to.
  • Chopin Nocturne in E minor (op. 72 no.1): So this is one I performed a while ago and it’s one of my favourites. I like to play it fairly frequently just to keep it fresh in my memorised repertoire but to be honest, I really need no excuse to play this one. I’ve always felt like I could really express myself through this intensely emotional piece.

On my plate for the future:

  • Chopin Etude op. 10 no.12 (Revolutionary): I’m hoping that I will begin this when I have the Ocean etude down. Won’t be any time soon but I’m still looking forward to it. 🙂 Fantastic, passionate piece that I can’t wait to work on.
  • Brahms Intermezzo op. 118 no.2: I stumbled on a recording of this piece by Evgeny Kissin who performed the intermezzos in the Verbier Festival of 2007. I’ve honestly never heard a more moving interpretation of this piece. I am continually in awe of Kissin’s ability to play from the heart and it’s really inspired me to add this piece to my own repertoire.
  • Liszt Consolation no. 3 in D flat major: Let the beautiful pieces flow! I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled upon this but I do remember hearing Horowitz play this and going “Wow. I need to learn this one.”
  • Bach Fugue in B flat minor (WTC I – BWV 867): This one is probably going to be the first one I start on in this list, right after I’m done with the prelude. I’ve found that working on Bach just does so much for my fingers and mind that I’ve decided to try and keep him a constant in my music while I work on other pieces.
  • Chopin Funeral March (op. 35 sonata): I really love this piece and at some point I will work on it and have it memorised and all of that good stuff. I’ve heard for years now and it still sends chills down my spine. It’s just so grave and haunting and deep.
  • Beethoven Sonata: This is vague, I know – but I really don’t know which one yet.  My teacher and I agree that these would be the next “big” pieces to work on but I haven’t yet been able to pick any one of them out. Partly I think the etudes are enough to take up my bandwidth and partly I think with the all the drama those pieces have, I’m looking for something calmer to balance it out. We shall see how it works out.

Well that’s it for now! Next time I’ll be taking a look at how things look in the non-classical department!


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