Author Topic: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues  (Read 38142 times)

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Online Madiel

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #120 on: July 03, 2021, 10:07:16 PM »
Sorry, Scherbakov fans, but I'm 6 preludes and fugues in and I'm really not hearing a lot to impress me. So far there's a nearly complete lack of emotional resonance (and that's when I'm not thinking "what the hell" on the choice of tempo or articulation or voicing).

Okay okay, no.7 was kind of nice...

EDIT: I can't help wondering whether he came back the next day and was 'feeling' it more, because 7 through 9 were all pretty decent, but then as I start typing this the fugue of no.10 starts off a bit staid. He was tiring.  :laugh:

I'll keep going, but I'm not seeing this demanding to be added to my collection. It's not terrible by any means, but so far I wouldn't recommend it when there's Melnikov and Lin.

SECOND EDIT: Okay, pausing after no.12. The fugue was pretty good, but the prelude was absurdly fast.

THIRD EDIT during the second half: Really, things did get a fair bit better later in the set. There's some good stuff in here. But is there enough good stuff to make me pick this over alternatives? No, I don't think so. There are too many pieces that don't convince or a just a bit flat and academic.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2021, 01:15:21 AM by Madiel »
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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #121 on: July 04, 2021, 12:29:40 AM »
The set that comes closest to Shostakovich's own intentions (particularly metronome marks, but also style of playing). Interesting for that reason. Whether it's the best, I don't know.

It looks like some of Woodward's speeds must be absurdly fast, given the overall timing. It speaks of a man trying to make sure he fits on 2 LPs.

Presto lists it as 2 hrs 5 minutes. That compares to 2 hrs 33 minutes for Nikolayeva's first set, which Shostakovich attended the recording sessions for and approved of.

EDIT: Also, I've just read that Shostakovich himself disparaged his own ability to set appropriate metronome marks...
« Last Edit: July 04, 2021, 12:50:34 AM by Madiel »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #122 on: July 04, 2021, 12:31:39 AM »
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Offline amw

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #123 on: July 04, 2021, 01:03:59 AM »
It looks like some of Woodward's speeds must be absurdly fast, given the overall timing. It speaks of a man trying to make sure he fits on 2 LPs.

Presto lists it as 2 hrs 5 minutes. That compares to 2 hrs 33 minutes for Nikolayeva's first set, which Shostakovich attended the recording sessions for and approved of.
That's true, and Shostakovich himself considered Nikolayeva the superior performer, but his own style was very different; Woodward seems to base his performances on Shostakovich's pianistic style (and fidelity to the score, with its often very fast metronome marks and few if any pedal indications); see e.g.,
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/gF-TmWzIpFI" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/gF-TmWzIpFI</a>

Here you are

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1C1f9wEasf7Ei_t665KBE3_ABru65TRQL/view?usp=sharing

(July 4 prezzie)
Thanks.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2021, 01:17:23 AM by amw »

Online Madiel

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #124 on: July 04, 2021, 01:06:49 AM »
That's true, and Shostakovich himself considered Nikolayeva the superior performer, but his own style was very different; Woodward seems to base his performances on Shostakovich's pianistic style (and fidelity to the score, with its often very fast metronome marks and few if any pedal indications); see e.g.,
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/gF-TmWzIpFI" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/gF-TmWzIpFI</a>

Without having tried all of Shostakovich's performances of op.87 (I must at some point), I've seen reports that he is super fast in fast pieces AND super slow in slow pieces.

I don't think a metronome marking can be taken over the words used in the score for tempo indication. Especially not when the composer himself is on record as saying his metronome markings are not good and often too fast!
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Offline amw

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #125 on: July 04, 2021, 01:27:21 AM »
I don't think a metronome marking can be taken over the words used in the score for tempo indication. Especially not when the composer himself is on record as saying his metronome markings are not good and often too fast!
That's also fair. Shostakovich's own performances seem to usually be 15-20% slower than his fast metronome marks, and 25-30% slower than his slow metronome marks. This is still however faster than the mainstream of Shostakovich performance which is closer to 25-33% slower than his fast metronome marks, and as much as 50% slower than his slow metronome marks. Whether the results are any good of course depends on the listener.

(An interesting short comparison is Shostakovich and Weinberg's 2-piano performance of the scherzo of the Tenth Symphony vs. almost every orchestral performance; only very early recordings by Karel Ančerl and Dmitri Mitropoulos match the composer's tempo. The metronome mark is half note = 116 [misprinted in the score as half note = 176], Shostakovich & Weinberg play at about half note = 100, and most performances drop further to about half note = 88 or even slower. What actually works best?)

Online Madiel

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #126 on: July 04, 2021, 01:42:33 AM »
I just sampled a few bits of Woodward via iTunes.

I would never have wanted to go for a walk with him, because his idea of Andante is not at all relaxing. I'd be out of breath.

EDIT: Also sampling Nikolayeva's 1962 recording. I'm definitely going to have to try this out in full. She's almost always a little faster than in her Hyperion recording. Almost. She's longer a couple of times, including in the B flat minor fugue where she's already way slower than other recordings I've looked at the timing of.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2021, 01:53:38 AM by Madiel »
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Offline T. D.

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #127 on: July 04, 2021, 04:34:08 AM »
Sorry, Scherbakov fans, but I'm 6 preludes and fugues in and I'm really not hearing a lot to impress me. So far there's a nearly complete lack of emotional resonance (and that's when I'm not thinking "what the hell" on the choice of tempo or articulation or voicing).

Okay okay, no.7 was kind of nice...

EDIT: I can't help wondering whether he came back the next day and was 'feeling' it more, because 7 through 9 were all pretty decent, but then as I start typing this the fugue of no.10 starts off a bit staid. He was tiring.  :laugh:

I'll keep going, but I'm not seeing this demanding to be added to my collection. It's not terrible by any means, but so far I wouldn't recommend it when there's Melnikov and Lin.

SECOND EDIT: Okay, pausing after no.12. The fugue was pretty good, but the prelude was absurdly fast.

THIRD EDIT during the second half: Really, things did get a fair bit better later in the set. There's some good stuff in here. But is there enough good stuff to make me pick this over alternatives? No, I don't think so. There are too many pieces that don't convince or a just a bit flat and academic.

Bit of a relief to read this. I bought Scherbakov not long after its release, motivated by many rave reviews, but never connected with it.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #128 on: July 04, 2021, 04:41:06 AM »
Woodward’s essay is interesting, it sent me to listening to some Richter (I chose, fairly randomly, a performance of about a dozen pieces in Hungary in 1965.) I also listened to the extraordinary, hallucinatory, performances here

« Last Edit: July 04, 2021, 04:51:41 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Madiel

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #129 on: July 04, 2021, 04:58:36 AM »
I just had a look to see how many complete performances are available to me on Primephonic.

Not all that many, really. 15.

One I haven’t seen much mention of is Caroline Weichert. I just randomly tried the G sharp minor fugue and it seemed pretty good. Shall investigate further. Of course, days when I want to pursue my way through all of op.87 are not that common.
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #130 on: July 04, 2021, 08:50:21 AM »
... which is why I have two 'favourites' playlists, a short one of 5 Preludes plus 7 fugues, and a longer one of 11 of each which is what I most usually listen to.

I do of course agree with the view that there is a structural whole and that the individual pieces gain from the juxtapositions that DSCH intended - but, the oilder I get the meaner I get with my time, and cherrypicking is normal for me these days.

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #131 on: July 04, 2021, 02:58:27 PM »
I've decided I'm (eventually) going to listen to all the versions I haven't heard that are available to me. That's a dozen, no doubt with Igor Levit to be added to the list in September. His C major prelude sounds quite decent actually...

I expect a couple of them will drive me crazy. And I used a list randomizer, and Roger Woodward is going to be first.
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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #132 on: July 04, 2021, 05:52:22 PM »


I don't know what it is that seems to inspire some pianists to rush through the first four P&Fs in particular, but at the very beginning I imagined Woodward asking "is this going to take long? I've got a bus to catch".

Maybe it's just my ear adjusting to their style? I'm not convinced that's it. Maybe it's just that certain later pieces are relatively hard to muck up, I don't know. But there were certainly better moments later on. Number 7 was gorgeous for instance. And some pieces can survive a fast approach, whereas in some Woodward just isn't in a noticeable hurry compared to other performers. And fast in and of itself isn't necessarily a problem; the B flat major prelude is fast without feeling like it's a mad rush, whereas the fugue gets to the point where it sounds chaotic.

But there were still plenty of times, especially in fugues, where it sounded so profoundly anti-Romantic as to leave nothing but a collection of notes. It makes sense to hammer out the D flat major fugue, but then why bother having 24 of the things if you're going to hammer out lots of them?  Too often there's no shape, no colour. But he can do colour. The F minor fugue I'm listening to right at this moment has it.

I have to give Woodward some credit for doing the first full Western recordings (I don't know if there were even any full Russian ones besides Nikolayeva?). But personally I think there are better options now.
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Offline milk

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #133 on: July 05, 2021, 03:22:56 AM »
Just my 2 cents.

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #134 on: July 05, 2021, 04:31:05 AM »
It's on the list. But there are 11 on the list and it's 9th...
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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #135 on: July 05, 2021, 05:14:30 AM »
It's on the list. But there are 11 on the list and it's 9th...
I shall await my turn. I listened tonight again and still feel it's special, intimate, Bachian...
 

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #136 on: July 05, 2021, 06:10:29 AM »
One of the last things I got from MusicWeb before quitting writing reviews for them was Craig Sheppard's Op 87. I remember listening, multiple times, and having nothing to say except "it's fine, less varied and expressive than Melnikov," and the challenge of having to write 500 words when 10 would do was one of the things that drove me to stop.

Anyway, so you are going to do a way better job than I did.

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #137 on: July 05, 2021, 06:18:33 AM »
(* chortle *)
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #138 on: July 05, 2021, 11:03:10 AM »
Sorry, Scherbakov fans, but I'm 6 preludes and fugues in and I'm really not hearing a lot to impress me. So far there's a nearly complete lack of emotional resonance (and that's when I'm not thinking "what the hell" on the choice of tempo or articulation or voicing).

Okay okay, no.7 was kind of nice...

EDIT: I can't help wondering whether he came back the next day and was 'feeling' it more, because 7 through 9 were all pretty decent, but then as I start typing this the fugue of no.10 starts off a bit staid. He was tiring.  :laugh:

I'll keep going, but I'm not seeing this demanding to be added to my collection. It's not terrible by any means, but so far I wouldn't recommend it when there's Melnikov and Lin.

SECOND EDIT: Okay, pausing after no.12. The fugue was pretty good, but the prelude was absurdly fast.

THIRD EDIT during the second half: Really, things did get a fair bit better later in the set. There's some good stuff in here. But is there enough good stuff to make me pick this over alternatives? No, I don't think so. There are too many pieces that don't convince or a just a bit flat and academic.

The resonance and ringing can get too much for me for listening to Melnikov in long stretches.

Scherbakov used to be my reference; maybe it being the first one I heard had some impact but I like to think I can look past that as I've readily discarded imprint recordings in the past or only made them part of nostalgia listening. Boris Petrushansky is now my reference set.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2021, 11:06:40 AM by hvbias »
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Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
« Reply #139 on: July 05, 2021, 12:45:07 PM »
I should revisit the Scherbakov
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