Russian Piano Works
This is a very distinguished debut recording. Margaret Fingerhut rises to every change of mood in these short pieces. Her technique is wholly musical and she has an innate sense of rubato that allows the phrases a natural breadth. It is sad that the showy sensationalism of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Balakirev's Islamey has completely eclipsed other pieces by ''The Mighty Handful''; the touchingly poignant simplicity of A teardrop by the former composer is masterfully conveyed with an absolute economy of notes. Fingerhut's lovely use of pedal effects elevates it into a memorable piece that is a suitable epitaph to the composer's difficult life; it used to be described as his last work.
Cui's four Preludes quite belie his position as the most obscure and least talented of The Five. In listening to Nos. 8 and 10 one becomes very aware of the tradition from which Rachmaninov's Preludes evolved. For sheer delicacy the gossamer lightness of Fingerhut's fingerwork in Rimsky-Korsakov's Scherzino is remarkable, and when put alongside her reading of the Borodin Nocturne, with the exquisite depth of tone, she is revealed as a pianist of real range. Chandos could not have chosen a better artist, and the recorded sound, which keeps everything in focus, has a rich ambience.'