AROUND THE FUGUE

Review by: Jed Distler

Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 8

Here’s a recital centered upon how seven composers of different eras deal with fugal texture, featuring the Bulgarian-born, Russian-trained, Paris-based pianist Lilia Boyadjieva. Working backward, Cynthia Lee Wong is the youngest composer represented (born 1982). Her Fugato exudes the kind of rhythmic verve and tonal ambiguity that wouldn’t be out of place in early Prokofiev or Shostakovich. The relatively sparse and acerbic Shchedrin and Shostakovich selections contrast to the Franck Prelude, Choral and Fugue’s lusher contours and Liszt’s full-keyboard workout on the musical notes corresponding to Bach’s name.

A program such as this requires solid pianism and intelligent musicianship, and that’s what Boyadjieva’s best performances deliver. She shapes Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy with great care and forethought and subjects the Liszt B-A-C-H fugue to subtle, effective tempo fluctuations. The Mendelssohn B minor Prelude is appropriately crisp and light, but on the dry side, while the following fugue’s thicker sections aren’t quite so effortlessly executed as they could be. Much as I admire Boyadjieva’s fluency and forward impetus in the Franck, more refinement and tonal magic can be found elsewhere (Stephen Hough, Murray Perahia, Ivan Moravec, for example). A monochrome quality emerges in louder passages that either has to do with the pianist, the instrument, or the sonics. Possibly all three?



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Recording Details:

Album Title: AROUND THE FUGUE
Reference Recording: None for this collection

J.S. BACH - Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue
FELIX MENDELSSOHN - Prelude & Fugue in B minor Op. 35
FRANZ LISZT - Fantasy & Fugue on B-A-C-H
CESAR FRANCK - Prelude, Choral & Fugue
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH - Prelude & Fugue in D-flat major Op. 81
RODION SHCHEDRIN - Prelude & Fugue in G minor for the left hand
CYNTHIA LEE WONG - Fugato

  • Lilia Boyadjieva (piano)

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