Felix Blumenfeld (1883-1931):
Twenty-Four Preludes, Op. 17 (1892)
Two Impromptus, Op. 13 (1890)
Four Preludes, Op. 12 (1890)
Two Impromptus, Op. 45 (1912)
Piano: Philip Thomson
Producer: Michael Rolland Davis
Engineer: Ed Thompson
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
Recorded at Fernleaf Abbey, Columbus, Ohio
November 4, 5 & 6, 1998
May 5 & 6, 1999 and October 4, 1999
Recorded using 24-Bit State-of-the-Art Technology - HDCD Encoded
Felix Blumenfeld (1863-1931) was the quintessential Romantic - a gifted pianist, composer and conductor whose mentoring influenced and inspired a whole generation of exceptional musicians, including Vladimir Horowitz, Heinrich Neuhaus, Simon Barere and Dmitry Tiomkin. For posterity he left a treasure trove of piano compositions, full of virtuosity, passion, and elegance. In this World Premiere, 24-bit recording of his Complete Preludes and Impromptus, Canadian pianist, Philip Thomson brings to life in all their glory, the soaring and rich piano canvasses of one of Russia's greatest musical spirits.
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, Sep. 2000
Ivory Classics has enlisted Philip Thomson to record Blumenfeld's complete Preludes and Impromptus. Pianophiles will adore this stuff. Blumenfeld's keyboard writing recalls (anticipates, actually) the swirling serpentine patterns favored by the young Scriabin and Rachmaninov, replete with ear-tickling harmonic invention. If we filtered Philip Thomson's sparkling, effortless, idiomatic playing through an equalizer, and added fake shellac noise, pops, and crackle, you'd swear these were long lost Hofmann, Friedman, or Lhevinne recordings. On the other hand, the old-timers would have enjoyed the benefits of Ivory Classics' modern-day engineering. A pussycat of a disc.
Classics Today, Sep. 2000
Felix Blumenfeld was a brilliant Russian pianist, a great conductor and teacher. The best thing about this release is Thomson's deft playing. He is a non-show-off virtuoso who obviously believes in what he is playing, and he presents a good case for it. Pianophiles will be interested in this disc, the only Blumenfeld collection ever put together (in the west, at least).
American Record Guide, Jun. 2000
In the early part of the 20th century, Felix Blumenfeld was a celebrated conductor, pianist, composer and teacher (Horowitz and Barere were students). Much of the credit for this recording must go to the technically irreproachable and always sensitively intelligent playing of Philip Thomson. The centerpiece of this recording are the 24 Preludes Op.17 Thomson rises to the challenge every time.
Classical Music, Jun. 2000
Philip Thomson has performed a singular service in these world premiere recordings. While Blumenfeld's muse may not be Olympian or his inspiration consistent, there is much to admire among these 34 miniatures, few of which last longer than three minutes. Thomson makes the most of Blumenfeld's brief contrasted sketches of Russian life and makes a persuasive case for their revival. The piano sound is appropriately intimate but by no means confined and Thomson's playing throughout reflects to perfection the tasteful, cultured and unpretentious nature of this beautifully crafted music. As usual with Ivory Classics, the presentation and booklet notes are first-class.
International Record Review, May. 2000
Blumenfeld had been famed for his lyrical singing tone and colorful virtuosity. These qualities are matched by his young Canadian disciple, Philip Thomson's intelligent interpretation. He has a easy style, gentle rubato underpinned by firm underlying pulse, pellucid tone, brilliance when required. The sound quality is excellent and the recording owes its success in considerable measure to the Baldwin piano, prepared by Edd Kolakowski - a far more suitable choice than a typical Steinway.
Classical music on the web, May. 2000
Philip Thomson has wisely not opted for a chronological order of composition and avoided the presentation of these world premiere recordings in a bland reference library format. There are delights and surprises at every turn. The piano sound is appropriately intimate. Thomson's playing throughout balances musical sensibility with unshowy virtuosity of a type which reflects to perfection Blumenfeld, the cultured Russian pianist-composer.
International Piano, Apr. 2000