Long gone is the time when I used to make lists of my favorite music almost daily it seemed. A good thing too. Still, once in a while I get an urge, and rather than chose a 'Best Of', it makes much more sense to record what I am actually playing. For this, surely, is a better record of what I value than trying to pull memories out of my aging brain.
I'll pick ten pieces, not in any order of preference.
1. Three Sarabandes by Erik Satie (as played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet). These pieces lack something the melodic interest of the famous Gymnopédies, but counter with a use of space and time that makes them, to my ear, feel quite serene. Perhaps my favorite relaxation music.
3. Miroirs by Maurice Ravel (as played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet). Ravel, along with Satie, is a composer of exquisite melodies, and these pieces are a blend of gorgeous melody and shimmeringly atmospheric harmony.
4. Rustiques by Albert Roussel (as played by Eric Parkin). A set of three haunting impressionistic pieces, close to but still distinct from those of Debussy.
5. Preludes by Olivier Messiaen (as played by Peter Hill). Following in the Ravel/Debussy impressionist tradition, but already playing with the structural and harmonic sense that make Messiaen easily one of the most unique composers.
6. Pièces de Clavecin by François Couperin (as played by Angela Hewitt). A lot of works these, grouped into several books, and all both evocative and charming. Couperin's keyboard style influenced Bach – it is easy to hear in the Goldberg Variations.
7. Le Tombeau de Couperin by Maurice Ravel (as played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet). Six delightful pieces inspired by (but not sounding like) the Baroque forms favored by Couperin. All memorials for friends killed in World War One, but happy rather than sad memories.
8. Three Pieces for Piano, Op. 11 by Arnold Schoenberg (as played by Maurizio Pollini). Among the very first works composed in the atonal style, moody and starkly beautiful.
9. Années De Pèlerinage by Franz Liszt (as played by Jenö Jandó). I still think Liszt is most underrated as a composer. These beautiful and powerful tone poems for piano are the clear precursors of both the impressionist and the expressionist movements of the 20th century.
10. Six Nocturnes by Erik Satie (as played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet). My favorite just-before-sleep music. Perhaps Satie's most mesmerizingly melodic composition (Nocturnes 1 to 4 certainly).
A few things to note. All of these works are for keyboard, and, in this particular instance, all played on the piano. Most are French. Most date from the late 19th to early 20th century. I don't why this should be so, but that's how it is right now with my music.