Steven Osborne, piano
Steven Osborne here meets the considerable pianistic demands of
Rachmaninoff’s Preludes with effortless aplomb and elegant, world-class
mastery. In addition, Hyperion’s superior engineering absorbs the music’s wide
dynamic range, striking an ideal balance between ambient resonance and
Granted, some listeners may find Osborne’s luminous tone and yielding cadences too soft-grained in impact next to more angular and forceful performances of certain pieces, but his intelligence and authority grow more persuasive over repeated listening.
How marvelously he structures the G-sharp minor Op. 32, No. 12’s obstinate accompaniment around the long cantabile lines, and similarly so in the C minor Op. 23, No. 7. Impressivepower, drive and suppleness define an A minor Op. 32, No. 8 that arguably rivals Ashkenazy’s nimble paradigm. The B minor Op. 32, No. 10’s desolate
chords are weighty yet full of inner lilt. And the ubiquitous C-sharp minor Op.
3, No. 2 convincingly fuses forward sweep and firm, orchestral sonorities.
While I wouldn’t sacrifice Weissenberg, Fiorentino or Ashkenazy among my
favorite complete Rachmaninoff Prelude cycles, collectors seeking the best combination
of sound and interpretation will gain long-lasting satisfaction from Osborne’s
- Jed Distler