Felix Blumenfeld was a virtuoso pianist-composer and highly respected teacher, whose students included Vladimir Horowitz, Heinrich Neuhaus and Dmitry Tiomkin. His deeply romantic Preludes and Impromptus on this disc receive their world premiere recorded performances by the Canadian pianist, Philip Thomson (who can also be heard on the Naxos Liszt series). Musical discoveries await on this audiophile release.
In the early part of the 20th century, Felix Blumenfeld was a celebrated conductor, pianist, and composer. A student of Rimsky-Korsakov, his composing owed as much to the music of Chopin as it did to contemporary Russian composers. That his compositions are regrettably little known today should be partly remedied with this world premiere recording of Blumenfeld's preludes and impromptus. Much credit for this must go to the technically irreproachable and always sensitively intelligent playing of Philip Thomson. The centerpiece of the recording is the 24 Preludes. This smart and lovely homage to Chopin's peerless preludes bristles with wit, grace, and highly original ideas (as in the inspired piano texture of No. 17). Each prelude cannily takes one aspect of the corresponding Chopin prelude and develops it in an unexpected way. Like Chopin's, the first prelude is squarely in C major, the second harmonically unstable, the third a bit frothy, etc. For all its agitation, the seventh in A major is still a waltz; the ninth is still a march. And occasionally when a prelude, such as the twelfth, gives the pianist a run for his money, Thomson rises to the challenge every time.
Reviews"Philip Thomson presents the first ever recordings of Blumenfeld's complete Preludes and Impromptus. I can't understand why they have been forgotten for so long, for though they owe a debt to Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Anton Rubinstein, the 34 titles (75 minutes in all) alternate between dreamy Russian melancholy, dazzling virtuosity and poetic salon charmers." - Classic FM Magazine