Alice Ader

Mussorgsky: Complete Piano Works

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While casual Russophiles may be content with just a recording of Pictures at an Exhibition, rabid Russophiles will want the complete piano works of Mussorgsky, but this set by Alice Ader will not do at all. Ader's heart is in the right place, but her fingers are all too often in the wrong place, or, indeed, all over the place. Her interpretations are often fascinating and might even be persuasive in more capable hands, but in Ader's hands, most of the music here, particularly on the first disc, sounds conspicuously sentimental. Even less successful are the performances of the vastly more difficult works on the second disc. Ader drops so many notes, and is so timid, so tremulous, and so hesitant in her attacks that listening to the more problematic movements from Pictures at an Exhibition often becomes more trouble than it's worth. This is a shame, since Ader has plainly got a real feel for Mussorgsky's uncanny music, and passages of Catacombs from Pictures and the whole coda of the transcription of Night on Bald Mountain are quite effective. But as a whole, these performances are too poorly played to be listened to more than once. Fuga Libera's digital sound is hard and cluttered.

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