Various Artists

Touch Your Soul

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While many of the titles in Berlin Classics' Moods series feature mixed programs of orchestral, chamber, and keyboard music, Touch Your Soul presents nothing but piano music, and the uniformity of instrumentation makes this CD one of the more aesthetically consistent and comfortingly predictable of these German budget compilations. The tone quality of the pianos varies a little from one track to the next, naturally enough, as does the touch of the nine pianists presented here; but there are no inordinately shocking disruptions of the generally calm mood established at the beginning. The only aspect of the program that might be too variable for some listeners' liking is the inclusion of a few fast selections among the mostly slow pieces and movements from piano sonatas; however, they are perhaps only of concern for people who want to use this CD to induce total relaxation or somnolence. The performances by Elfrun Gabriel, Rolf-Dieter Arens, Andreas Pistorius, Dieter Zechlin, Renate Schorler, Peter Rösel, Annerose Schmidt, Cécile Ousset, and Günter Philipp are never less than fine, and are often exceptional, so there's no need to worry about the quality of the playing. The pieces by Frédéric Chopin, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Robert Schumann, Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Sergey Rachmaninov, Claude Debussy, and Alexander Scriabin are all essential works in the repertoire, so this collection should serve beginners well as an introduction to Classical and Romantic piano music.

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