Comprising three centuries of noted composers' "minor" works, Lubimov's Der Bote (The Messenger) bears out its title with short, introspective pieces that capture thoughts of nostalgia, mourning, and meditation. The first work, C.P.E. Bach's 1787 Fantasy, sounds amazingly avant-garde, full of surprising darts and turns. And the experimental 20th-century composer John Cage's "In a Landscape" is an even bigger surprise. Instead of random keyboard plink-plunks, it's a diaphanous Debussyan tone poem, bound to startle party guests playing Name That Composer.
Liszt's otherworldly "Abschied," Glinka's achingly beautiful Nocturne "La Separation," and Bartók's bleak "Vier Klagelieder" (Four Dirges) are highlights, but so are virtually all the other selections--especially Lubimov's moving interpretation of Chopin's neglected Prelude op. 45. Valentin Silvestrov is represented by his stark Elegie, and the fascinating "Der Bote," which vainly attempts to recall the lost world of classicism through Mozart quotations that fragment into shards. This is a concept album that works, each short gem casting refracted light on the others. Despite the New Age implications of an album of short, contemplative music, there's solid substance and stunning pianism here. --Dan Davis