On a island, if there can be only 4 songs i can listen to for the rest of life, they would be:
These are cold, austere, painful, and represent me, my personality, my character.
There are many others that would be my top 10 or 20, but these 4 standout. And if i can only pick 2 albums, that'd be Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC) book 1 (24 songs), and Liszt's Transcendental Etudes (12 songs). My top 10 songs likely will be exclusively piano/keyboard music. No symphonies, orchestras, no pop rap rock'n'roll, nothing except pure music.
Here's music video of them.
By the way, the songs listed here are not the types that you'll find in intro to classical music. If you haven't studied classical music before, you better off with recording titled like “piano favorites” or something like that.
The one above lacks dynamics in the fugue, partly due to the instrument the harpsichord. But the prelude part is good.
All the prelude in WTC are also my top favorites.
My favorite interpreter of Bach's WTC is Wanda Landowska. And my favorite instrument of WTC is Wanda's special Pleyel harpsichord. Second favorite is probably Friedrich Gulda in the video above.
The above guy is Jorge Bolet, one of the top 2 of my favorite interpretater of this piece.
For more about this piece, see: Piano Scale Practice; Liszt Transcendental Etude #12.
Claudio Arrau is another one of my favorite Liszt pianist.
I've known Bach's WTC since around 1991, and have been listening to his WTC almost every day for many hours for the first few years. Am mostly interested in his fugue works. Through out the past 20 years, i still listen to them, perhaps every month.
I've known Liszt's transcendental etudes also in the early 1990s. Franz Liszt is a fascinating character. My hero of sorts. The type of guy i admire. (for context, i don't care about Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, et al.) I've read increasingly more about Liszt, and discovered he has massive number of piano work. About in 2006, i discovered that a pianist Leslie Howard has recorded the entire Liszt's solo piano works as they exist. 99 CDs so far. Record label is Hyperion. (i bought all the CDs on this page in 1990s, but am sorry to say, i downloaded the Leslie Howard's liszt work.) Since i listened to all Liszt's works, they are just incredible. Now, 3.656 k songs in my lib. 1.7k are Liszt. 354 are Bach.
(I can't find the boxed set of Leslie Howard's complete Liszt work. Please let me know if you do find it.) Here's a list of the titles: Leslie_Howard_complete_Liszt.txt.Disqus