Intro to Classical Piano Music:
Classical piano music comes in a variety of musical genres. While most genres are noticeably different, many people are unable to identify any given genre due to lack of terminology. In this article I hope to distinguish the most common genres of classical piano music and provide recommendations of notable works.
A concerto is a work consisting of an orchestral ensemble and a smaller group or soloist. In a piano concerto, the piano is the solo instrument. Throughout the work, the contrast between soloist and ensemble is maintained. Although not exclusively, the concerto is comprised of three contrasting movements (fast-slow-fast). Notable piano concerti are: Chopin - Piano Concerto No. 1(see video) and Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 1(see video).
The term sonata has many connotations, but the most common usage of the term refers to a form of music originating from the classical period. The sonata usually consists of three to four movements with the first movement almost always in sonata form. Therefore, a piano sonata is an unaccompanied work for solo piano usually in three to four movements. Notable piano sonatas are: Chopin - Piano Sonata No. 3(see video) and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
A piano trio is one of the most common forms of chamber music consisting of a piano and two other instruments. The most common instrumentation is a piano, violin, and cello. Notable works include Brahms - Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 8(see video) and Schubert's Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, D. 929 (Op. 100).
The most common form of the piano quintet, a piano with four other instruments, is a piano with a string quartet. Most notable works include Schubert's "Trout" Piano Quintet in A Major. Read the analysis of the "Trout" Quintet. Watch a video of the "Trout" Quintet.
Works for solo piano come in many different genres including the etude, prelude, polonaise,...