Glire: 25 Preludes, Op. 30; 3 Mazurkas, Op. 29; 12 Esquisses, Op. 47

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COMPOSERS: Glire
LABELS: Olympia
WORKS: 25 Preludes, Op. 30; 3 Mazurkas, Op. 29; 12 Esquisses, Op. 47
PERFORMER: Anthony Goldstone (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: OCD 711
Poor old Glière is less likely to be remembered for his epic pre-revolutionary Ilya Muromets Symphony than for the lukewarm Soviet ballet The Red Poppy, and for an anachronistic prettiness that came to fit well with the innate conservatism of the later Stalin years. These piano pieces all date from his high noon and were composed between 1906 and 1909.

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The 25 Preludes, moving upwards in major-minor pairs through the key spectrum, wallow rather often in the turbulent chromaticism of the times; but several candid specimens, not least the D major No. 5 and the E major No. 9, show a gift for free-wheeling melody before the busy figurations take over in the later stages of the sequence. Of course it’s fun to hear correspondences with Rachmaninov, Scriabin and even the devilish young Prokofiev (Glière’s pupil for two summers in the early 1900s).

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Yet an authentic charm surfaces more often in the simpler Esquisses. Anthony Goldstone is especially good at capturing their steady flame, and gently lilts in the three miniature Mazurkas; although he handles the more virtuosic Preludes with ease, a touch more flamboyance in sound and performance to point up the contrasts would have been welcome. Without his curiosity, though, these pieces would have remained unheard – a far from deserving fate. David Nice