The previous two releases in this series combined charming salon pieces with romantic, evocative masterpieces of yearning fairy-tale atmospheres and glittering colors. In comparison, the third release, which gathers together Glazunov's preludes and fugues, might strike readers as a slightly tougher proposition. But surely Glazunov's are the most important contributions to the genre between Bach and Shostakovich, and the comparisons don't really put Glazunov to shame. These are, in short, superb creations, inventive - mesmerizing even - and often instantly memorable. The op.62 prelude and fugue might be the most immediately attractive - darker, but also more chromatic than its successors - but surely the 101 set emerges as a collection of genuine masterpieces after repeated listening. And the final, 1926, one - an afterthought to the op.101 set - is something of a towering masterpiece.
The music is relatively densely contrapuntal but the use of chromatic parallel and contrary motion in the fugues is almost hypnotic. Yet the end result is quite unlike the effect achieved by Bach and Shostakovich - what we get is more like intricately woven, meticulously patterned embroideries, somewhat episodic at times, perhaps, but still full of delectable wonders and memorable passages. The op.101 works are generally more imbued with the magical fairy-tale spirit of (many of) his other piano works than the other two works, more romantic but also lighter and brighter in texture.
Stephen Coombs is yet again a masterly advocate of this music - I could certainly imagine a less romantic approach , but that is not to say that Commbs's approach comes across as anything other than exactly right. The sound quality is again excellent, and while this disc is certainly not the place to start if one seeks representative impression of Glazunov's very rewarding piano music it is still a remarkable release. Strongly recommended.