"The Preludes by Cesar Cui are a fascinating set of pieces, with a distinctive character for each tonality. The pianistic challenges are equal to any other set composed before, during and after its time, and the musical attributes bring out the tender, passionate and soulful emotions of the human spirit. Beginning and ending in C Major, the structure of the set goes from minor to Major for each tonality, for example, after C major, e minor, then G Major, followed by b minor then D Major, etc. After reaching the most accidentals ('sharp's), the composer uses their enharmonic key signatures with most 'flat' minor and Major key signatures until he is back to one 'flat' and, then 'a minor' and finally, 'C Major' to conclude the set. The Preludes were brought to my attention in the 1980s from Charles Ervin, who frequented international piano competitions, and asked if I had ever encountered the opus.. From microfilm, I printed the Jurgenson edition, edited them, and recorded the first integral set of the 25 Preludes for the Marco Polo label, which was further re-printed for Naxos (8.555557).
A military engineer, Cesar Cui was also a General, and composed under the tutelage of Mily Balakirev. Having French and Lithuanian parentage, he was not Russian, yet, because of his relationship with Balakirev, became known as one of the Russian Five (Balakirev, Borodin, Cui, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov). His music is often attributed to Robert Schumann, and more French in style than Russian. It is my hope that this set of compositions will become as well known as those by Chopin, Rachmaninov, Scriabin and the like, and performed more frequently by pianists of today and the future."