Pianist Jenny Lin's first (and hopefully not last) solo outing for Hänssler Classic brings us a rich gallery of Russian piano preludes dating from the decade before the 1917 Revolution and continuing through 1922. No doubt some composers' names here are more familiar than others, and not all of them are bonafide original creative voices--yet all of the pieces are interesting. The tonal ambiguity and mystic aura typifying late Scriabin (such as in his Op. 74 Preludes) also are evident in the Alexandrov Op. 10 Preludes, although No. 2 seems to morph Liszt's Valse Oubliée No. 1 onto Ravel. Samuel Feinberg's Op. 8 takes late Scriabin into more garish, polytextural territory à laRead more Godowsky. By contrast, Nikolai Obouhov's starker keyboard deployment and quirky dynamic shifts sometimes foreshadow Messiaen's bell-like block chords and bird-like decorations. A delicate and evocative set of Preludes by the teenaged Arthur Vincent Lourié bears no hint of the Futurist iconoclast to come. And in Nikolai Roslavetz's Five Preludes, desolation and tender lyricism poignantly cohabit.
As usual, Lin's talent for creating enterprising programs is matched by intelligent musicianship, a technique that can handle anything, and a big, generous tone. She gives the charming Liadov Prelude a stronger sense of line and lilt than Olga Kern's less-shapely rendition, and she matches the slashing intensity of Piers Lane's splendid Scriabin Op. 74 group with just a little more room for the bass lines to heave their angst. The excellent annotations and engineering further seal my highest recommendation. [4/30/2005]
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less