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After her last, highly acclaimed release of all Chopin nocturnes, the Chinese-US American pianist Claire Huangci dedicates herself to the next piano giant at the other end of Romanticism: Sergei Rachmaninov and his 24 Préludes.


According to Claire Huangci, in recent years she has felt increasingly drawn to complete cycles of works "in order to better understand the longer bows in a composer's life.” This is particularly interesting for Rachmaninov and his 24 Préludes from a total of three Opuses, as they were created within 18 years. In 1892 Rachmaninov laid the foundation stone with the Prélude in C sharp minor op. 3 No. 2, which quickly developed into one of his most famous works. The audience's constant desire for encores prompted the composer in 1921 to say "I like other Préludes much better". Understandably, considering that the Prélude was constantly associated with non-musical "programs". "If we are to recognize the psychology of Preludes, let it be understood that his function is not to express a mood, but to bring it about."

Applied to Rachmaninov's Preludes as a whole, this statement illustrates Rachmaninov's attempt to embrace a variety of emotions. The 10 Préludes op. 23 from 1903 and the 13 Préludes op. 32 from 1910 complete the double dozen and make the Russian composer's compositional development clear: "One can hear the transition. Rachmaninov's music became more complex, more contrapuntal; it became harmonically interesting and exciting." (Pianist Alexius Wissenberg)

Claire Huangci, "the child prodigy of the time", who recently won the Concours Géza Anda, one of the toughest piano competitions, "has grown up to be a mature artist," the jury explained. At less than 30 years old, she has established herself as a sought-after pianist who has performed in concerts from China to the USA. The fact that she now dedicates herself to this climax of late-romantic piano literature illustrates her consistent self-image in terms of both pianistic performance and interpretative maturity. Even if individual preludes still provide the "most challenging etudes by Chopin and Liszt with a devilish twist", for Claire Huangci they are not merely technical exercises, not an exhibition of pianistic abilities, but the core of Rachmaninov's character: "a symbiosis of modest purity and filigree virtuosity".

 

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