Inga Fiolia Plays Tsintsadze Preludes

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WP 2019 - 2TSINTSADZE: 24 Préludes for Piano / Inga Fiolia, pno / Grand Piano GP783

Sulkhan Fyodorovitch Tsintsadze (1925-1991) was one of the finest Georgian composers of his time but, like so many such artists, his work is scarcely known in the West. Here, pianist Inga Fiolia plays his remarkable set of 24 Preludes for piano, which were written in 1971.

Like so many Eastern European composers, Tsintsadze leaned on his native folk music as a basis for his work but intermixed this with modern harmonies that leaned towards atonality but were not 12-tone or atonal. As one can hear in the second Prelude, he could also create great atmosphere in his music, and he had an excellent grasp of form and development. Many of the preludes are short, ranging from 57 seconds (the first) to under two minutes, but eight of them range from about 2 ½ to roughly three minutes. Several of the faster preludes, such as No. 3, use strong motor rhythms with the left hand playing complex yet driving eighth-note patterns that scamper through harmonic traps while propelling the right-hand figures.

Fiolia’s strong, often driving keyboard style suits these works perfectly, thus giving the listener a very good impression of their essential character and style. She has wonderful keyboard articulation (meaning that she separates the notes cleanly and does not make them sound like a jumble of sound) and can switch in a heartbeat from a driving style to soft, but not mawkish, phrasing when the music calls for it. In the ninth prelude, Fiolia even gives the music a little bit of a boogie-woogie feel to the rhythm, which is not at all inappropriate. Strong motor rhythms, and a bit of jazz flavor, also propel the Prelude No. 21 in Bb minor.

As s set, these Preludes sound almost like etudes if you know what I mean. In fact, sometimes I wonder what the hell composers mean by the terms “prelude” or “etude” anyway, since most of the music contained in such sets tend to be abstract but dense pieces that have very little relationship to one another. It’s kind of like those “24 Hour Cleaners” shops I used to see as a child. “It’s just the name of the store; we can’t really clean all your clothes in 24 hours.”

Anyway, this is clearly a major find, not only in Fiolia’s pianism but in the quality of the music as well. Check it out!

—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley

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