"Speak Memory?" But what exactly should it say? That Russian-born pianist Vladimir Feltsman was once a hotshot virtuoso who recorded Prokofiev and Rachmaninov for Sony Classics in the late '80s, then Beethoven and Bach for MusicMasters in the early '90s, and, finally, selected sensual piano pieces for Rising Star issued on a disc called Classical Erotica in the mid-'90s? That Feltsman once had a big-time career appearing with the best orchestras of America, Europe, and Asia but that he now teaches at the State University of New York at New Paltz? That Feltsman basically peaked 15 years ago and has been slipping slowly into obscurity ever since?
While all that might be fair of memory to say, it might also be too harsh. As he proves on this disc called Speak Memory, even if Feltsman's recording and performing careers are no longer what they once were, he is nevertheless still a fine pianist. In this collection of especially charming if not especially difficult piano pieces, Feltsman's playing is more than competent and his interpretations are more than adequate. There are dozens of better performances of all 21 pieces on this disc, but no recording that puts them in the same order as Feltsman does, and, in this order at least, they might make reasonably effective seduction music. Urtext Classics' sound is warm, but not particularly vivid.