Written over a period of 18 years, Rachmaninov’s sets of Preludes are a mirror and a record of his compositional development. With so rich a variety of character, color, texture, and mood, no two preludes are fully alike, and differentiation of tempo and register ensures that each prelude’s character is clearly defined. The first eleven pieces were conceived by Rachmaninov as a single cycle, and their full-hearted Romanticism contrasts with the significantly more angular, modernistic Op. 32. Whether evoking ballad or bell toll, the exotic or folk influences, the Preludes stand in the great tradition of works by Bach and Chopin written in all 24 major and minor keys.
There is here suchRead more a sense of authority in his approach that his view becomes unarguable. Turn to the sixth of the opus 23 Preludes, and the sheer swagger of the Alla marcia is riveting, while there is an unusual wind blowing through the Tenth. Time and again he imparts a strength that focuses on the composer’s innate power, as in the Third and Fourth of Opus 32, and in the unhurried a pensive composer that we find in the Tenth. So I could enumerate my impression of each track, but this is a disc that captures Giltburg’s very personal journey and concludes with a magical account of the Twenty-Fourth Prelude. With a wide dynamic range, the sound quality is the most successful I have heard from this venue. Thoroughly recommended.