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Shostakovich: 24 Preludes; Alkan: 25 Preludes / Mustonen

Release Date: 01/22/2009 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 433055   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dmitri ShostakovichCharles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Olli Mustonen
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Available again through Arkivmusic.com's valuable on-demand reissue program, this indispensable 1991 release imaginatively pairs Shoatakovich's Op. 24 Preludes with Alkan's lesser-known yet equally quirky Op. 31 Preludes. Most importantly, Olli Mustonen uses his extraordinary technical aplomb, boundless palette of articulations, and highly refined dynamic gradations both to serve the text and to plumb each composer's sound world.

In the Shostakovich, for example, note the pianist's minutely calibrated and tonally varied rapid staccato lines that seemingly take on the character of orchestral instruments in Nos. 2, 5, 9, and 11, and in the "demented ballet" images Nos. 15 and 21 evoke. Yet Mustonen also fully projects
Read more the music's darker, brooding underside: I'm still reeling from the shattering force and infallible timing of No. 14's central climax.

Likewise, pinpoint refinement and bristling character consistently infuse vitality and meaning into Alkan's Preludes. Mustonen's exquisitely-crafted ornaments and rhythmic elongations generate unexpected tension throughout No. 2, while the timbral contrasts between melody and accompaniment in Nos. 3, 8, and 13 often suggest a pair of instruments in tandem. Quick repeated chords (such as those in Nos. 17 and elsewhere) boast a uniformity and hair-trigger precision that must be heard to be believed. While the overly bright sonics create a piercing effect at loudest moments, that's a minor reservation in light of Mustonen's revelatory excellence. I'd go so far as to say that Mustonen has not made a finer solo disc to date.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 34 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Olli Mustonen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932-1933; USSR 
Date of Recording: 10/1990 
Venue:  Blackheath Concert Hall, London 
Length: 29 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Preludes (25) for Piano, Op. 31 by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Olli Mustonen (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1990 
Venue:  Blackheath Concert Hall, London 
Length: 47 Minutes 0 Secs. 

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