On this 2015 Somm release, pianist Leon McCawley offers eloquent readings of Sergey Rachmaninov's 24 Preludes, and gives the complete set a strong feeling of consistency and continuity. The brooding Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 3/2, is the best known, though because it was published as part of Morceaux de fantaisie, it led a separate existence apart from the other preludes. Composed when Rachmaninov was 19, it quickly became his most celebrated composition around the world, as well as an encore piece that audiences clamored for at every recital, much to his chagrin. Just as famous is the Prelude No. 5 in G minor, Op. 23, a swaggering march that has long been one of Rachmaninov's greatest hits. These two preludes are likely to draw the most attention for sampling, and McCawley plays both with great panache. Yet listeners should give the whole album a try, because some of Rachmaninov's finest writing can be found in the less familiar preludes, and McCawley treats them all as parts of an organic whole, maintaining a smooth flow of moods and carefully modulated expressions throughout.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Preludes, Op. 23|
|Preludes, Op. 32|