Shostakovich Preludes & Fugues Op. 87 180g LP
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As little as Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues conformed to Soviet musical
dictates, these ambitious works were all the more highly regarded by the
experts. What appeared as decadent and formalistic to Stalinist augurs is no
less than an homage to Bach's Well-tempered Clavier in the form of 24
miniatures, in the major and minor keys around the circle of fifths.
Shostakovich dedicated his compositions to Tatiana Nikolayeva whom he got to
know at the Leipzig Bach Festival in 1950. Little did he know that she would
promote his musical gems right up until her very last breath, when she died on
stage while performing his Opus 87 in 1993 in San Francisco.
Although Sviatoslav Richter never recorded the complete cycle of Preludes and
Fugues, the present recording with his personal selection is one of the most
distinguished interpretations of these works. Richter's refined performance
brings out the strict form found within the modern compositional style, allowing
the biting sarcasm or ludicrous melodies to sparkle, and explores archaic
rhythms. But Richter, the experienced romanticist, is also a master of
Schumannesque expression in the form of languid melodiousness in the middle
range of the keyboard. At long last this hard-to-find, yet easy to listen to,
recording is available once more.
"Sviatoslav Richter was born in 1915. He began formal training exceptionally
late. Up to the year 1937, when he was twenty-two, his main ambition was to
become a conductor and he had made steps towards fulfilling this by taking up
the post of conductor at the Odessa Opera. But then, more or less unannounced,
he presented himself for piano-tuition under Heinrich Neuhaus in Moscow and the
latter at once perceived that Richter had very little to learn. 'He sat down at
the piano, put his big, supple, nervous hands on the keys and began to play. I
whispered to another pupil: "In my opinion he's a musician of genius." I must
say frankly that there was nothing I could teach Richter in the generally
accepted meaning of teaching. I always held merely a position of counsellor.'
Long before he began to tour in the West, Richter's name had taken on the
proportions of a legend. Rumours and hints of his genius, together with a
handful of poorish records, were enough to create an anticipatory wave of
expectation which any pianist might have found daunting. Richter, when he first
appeared in the West in 1960, triumphantly exceeded it; and since then, cooler
estimates of his capacity have only served to confirm the original impression."
- from liner notes by Derek Jole
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Sviatoslav Richter, piano
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Prelude & Fugue Op. 87, No. 14 in E flat minor
1. Adagio - Allegro non troppo (3 part)
Prelude & Fugue Op. 87, No. 17 in A flat
2. Allegretto - Allegretto (4 part)
Prelude & Fugue Op. 87, No. 15 in D flat
3. Allegretto - Allegro molto (4 part)
Prelude & Fugue Op. 87, No. 4 in E minor
4. Andante - Adagio (4 part)
Prelude & Fugue Op. 87, No. 12 in G sharp minor
5. Andante - Allegro (4 part)
Prelude & Fugue Op. 87, No. 23 in F
6. Adagio - Moderato con moto (3 part)
Recorded July 1963 in Paris, France.