3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This thoughtful set of performances was made in 2001 and has received a good quality recorded sound with a realistic recorded balance. The program is unusually interesting incorporating a selection of nocturnes and ballades to complement the set of preludes.
Lugansky is not a pianist that everyone warms to as frequently he delivers interpretations that are less 'showy' than others provide and which might be expected. Instead he delivers performances that are considered and often have a darker side to them beyond normal expectations. Consequently his performances of the Rachmaninov concertos were not liked by the reviewer in the Gramophone for example (Bryce Morrison) but became referred to as the benchmark reference discs fro the reviewer/s in the BBC magazine, the one finding his performances cool and detached and the other finding them grippingly committed.
So it is here. These preludes are far from the sugary performances that I grew up with over fifty years ago and which failed to excite me as a young man. I clearly remember the invigorating effect of the Ashkenazy and Perahia approaches to Chopin when they appeared. Both of these provided interpretations of great drama and bite - Chopin with male muscularity you might say. Lugansky has something of that muscular strength but, more specifically, he brings a darker psychological dimension to bear. This seems appropriate to me as Chopin, as a person, was certainly not all lightness and froth. He clearly struggled with his own psychological demons and this conflict is there in his music which can seem highly unsettled at times and aggressively discordant at others. All of this in addition to the obvious beauties. This mixture of emotions is to be found permeating all of these performances which take on a considerable stature and share a common emotional ground.
This is a very rewarding and thought-provoking set but will also require some flexibility from listeners, not all of whom will naturally respond so positively.
I would therefore suggest that this is a set that deserves to be seriously considered as a comparative disc for collectors of comparative interpretations. Purchasers looking for an 'only' version may prefer to consider one of the 'safer' alternatives, but would then miss out on these performances that may be closer to Chopin's own emotional mindset.