Shostakovich: 24 Preludes, Op. 34; Piano Sonata No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 2; Five Preludes

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COMPOSERS: Shostakovich
LABELS: Olympia
WORKS: 24 Preludes, Op. 34; Piano Sonata No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 2; Five Preludes
PERFORMER: Colin Stone (piano)
Soviet keyboard music at its best had a vitality that ensured its acceptance among pianists despite the reproaches it earned from the European avant-garde. Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues were its most prominent monument, but Colin Stone’s recording of the two piano sonatas reveals music of no less quality. Also on the disc are the earlier 24 Preludes, Op. 34, fine specimens of Thirties modernism, reflecting the restless tempo of the decade. Technically disciplined, Stone’s playing shows a warm sympathy for the composer’s poetical strain in the transitional Five Preludes of 1921, with insights into his 19th-century roots as well.


Not all the pieces on Vladimir Yurigin-Klevke’s intriguing anthology are of equal stature, though Gubaidulina’s 1962 Chaconne is clearly an exception. Its directness of form and expression, mixing Bach and bitonality, should commend it to all pianists. Pärt’s Partita sounds like a technical exercise, more restless and agitated than could ever be expected from his recent works. Shchedrin’s two Preludes and Fugues take the Shostakovich road and, like him, make their mark chiefly through interesting subjects. Karayev’s Preludes are imbued with the spirit of Chopin and Kabalevsky – strange bedfellows perhaps, but in this context, not unpleasing partners. Nicholas Williams