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The back cover of this release claims that this CD of Glinka miniatures is a ‘first recording on a pianoforte’. Actually it’s a period piano, a copy by Chris Maene (made in Ruiselede, north- western Belgium) of a Viennese Conrad Graf from 1825. That linguistic slip is one of many misprints in the notes that accompany this CD: three of the items are said to be in a strange key called ‘E-moll major’.

The brief biography of Glinka in the booklet is prefaced by a mere 10 lines of generalities on his piano music by the soloist, Tatiana Longuinova. Otherwise, there is nothing at all about the music, except for the fact that each piece is dated in the track listing, revealing that the earliest piece here dates from 1822 and the latest from 1852. The music hardly evolved over that period: it was not meant to – its purpose was to divert the gentlefolk at their domestic keyboard. But no one tells us anything about the music itself or the circumstances of its composition.

We are in better hands with the recording itself: Longuinova is a reliable guide to these unassuming morceaux de salon, keeping the rhythms buoyant while letting each piece find its natural pace. The recorded sound is clear and the piano tone natural – although without prior information, I might have guessed the instrument to be from three decades or so later. A diverting and agreeable release.

GRAHAM LOCK Read the full review on Agora Classica


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