This second concert in the Sights and Sounds on Sundays concert series was a sellout for seating in the auditorium of the North Carolina Museum of Art. This series is a joint venture of the museum and Chamber Music Raleigh. The intent of the series is to present significant North Carolina musicians in programs linked in some way with art or current exhibits at NCMA. Pianist Olga Kleiankina's imaginative program, pairing thirty-one preludes by a wide range of composers with projections of matching art by a vast range of artists, met the series' goal in spades. She is currently the Associate Teaching Professor of Piano at North Carolina State University while maintaining an active career nationally and internationally.
Kleiankina's keyboard mastery was simply breathtaking. With seeming ease, she moved from one style to another – from Chopin through Debussy, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich. Her articulation was extraordinarily clear, and her precision during crossed hands in fast passages was a wonder to see and hear. Her palette of delicate color and dynamics in Debussy's "Voiles" (Preludes, Book I), which opened the concert. and "Feux d'artifice" (Book II), which ended it, was outstanding. She had power to spare for dark and ff passages such as Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G minor, Op. 23/5, and Prelude in B-flat, Op. 32/2. She also brought plenty of edge and irony to seven preludes from Op. 34 by Shostakovich.
Some of the pairings of art with preludes were especially memorable. Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory," with its melted watches, accompanied Chopin's Prelude in A minor, Op.28. Scriabin's Prelude in E-flat minor, Op. 11 was haunted by "The Scream" by Edvard Munch. Chopin's Prelude in D-flat (Raindrop), Op.28 was aptly paired with Monet's "Morning on the Seine in the Rain." Renoir's "Portrait of Coco" was a fine pairing for Debussy's "La fille aux cheveux de lin" (Preludes, Book II).
Enthusiastic audience response was rewarded by Kleiankina's fleet encore performance of the Prelude No. 21 in B-flat (S.866) by J. S. Bach.