GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: The Mad Hatter on June 07, 2007, 02:04:39 AM

Title: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: The Mad Hatter on June 07, 2007, 02:04:39 AM
I'm currently listening to Keith Jarrett's recording...it doesn't really do much for me...

Can anyone recommend a better one? Did Gould do a recording of them?
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Harry on June 07, 2007, 02:15:46 AM
Well I thought the Naxos recording very fine. :)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: The Mad Hatter on June 07, 2007, 02:21:17 AM
Well I thought the Naxos recording very fine. :)

Is that Jeno Jando? I'm a little lukewarm towards his Bach Preludes and Fugues, so I don't know if I'd like the Shostakovich.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: BachQ on June 07, 2007, 02:23:27 AM
Konstantin Scherbakov
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: The Mad Hatter on June 07, 2007, 02:24:46 AM
*Wikis*

Ah, I might just get that one then, thanks guys.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Harry on June 07, 2007, 02:25:14 AM
 :)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Novi on June 07, 2007, 02:30:29 AM
Not very helpful since I've nothing to compare it to. But I've enjoyed Nikolaeva's op. 87.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Grazioso on June 07, 2007, 02:35:10 AM
(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/41RCQ5YTN3L._AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: sidoze on June 07, 2007, 04:18:54 AM
Richter is the only name worth mentioning IMO. I think there's a new BBC Legends disc coming out with a larger-than-normal selection of them. Otherwise hunt around on labels like Praga and Melodya. He played quite a lot of them and no one played or plays them better.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: karlhenning on June 07, 2007, 04:21:25 AM
Richter is the only name worth mentioning IMO.

The respectful opposition says Nikolayeva is the only name worth mentioning.

(Well, the respectful opposition would not normally express themselves in such terms, of course.)

The Scherbakov is good, too;  so I find that a name worth mentioning, as well.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Daverz on June 07, 2007, 04:54:41 AM
Did Gould do a recording of them?

No, but Richter recorded selected numbers.  Some were on Supraphon and some on Philips, with luckily only one duplication, P&F4.  Worth seeking out.  Otherwise, Scherbakov (Naxos) and Nikolayeva (Regis) are good
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on June 07, 2007, 06:36:38 AM
Ashkenazy's set is good. As is Nikolayeva's second Moscow set (Regis).

Richter's scraps (Philips, Supraphon, Pyramid) are well worth seeking out.



 
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SonicMan46 on June 07, 2007, 07:44:26 AM
The respectful opposition says Nikolayeva is the only name worth mentioning.

(Well, the respectful opposition would not normally express themselves in such terms, of course.)

The Scherbakov is good, too;  so I find that a name worth mentioning, as well.

Nikolayeva often was mentioned in the the old forum for these works, but apparently she recorded a number of sets w/ varying recommendations.  I agree w/ Karl & Harry about the Scherbakov performance on Naxos, which I own (also have had the Jarrett discs for years, but never did a back-back comparision, although I prefer the Naxos offering among those two); not sure if any 'newer' sets have emerged in the last year or so, but will be interested in additional comments & recommendations -  :)

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/B000050XA2.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SimonGodders on June 07, 2007, 08:31:53 AM
Anyone heard Mustonen?
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: karlhenning on June 07, 2007, 08:33:46 AM
Anyone heard Mustonen?

Don has found him wanting.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SimonGodders on June 07, 2007, 08:34:58 AM
Richter is the only name worth mentioning IMO. I think there's a new BBC Legends disc coming out with a larger-than-normal selection of them. Otherwise hunt around on labels like Praga and Melodya. He played quite a lot of them and no one played or plays them better.

That bloody Richter! Seem's to have a monopoly on everything, he can't have been that good.... :-\ ;)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SimonGodders on June 07, 2007, 08:36:16 AM
Don has found him wanting.

I see, and Don is a 'fan' of Mustonen I believe...

Probably give his a miss then.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: orbital on June 07, 2007, 08:40:11 AM
That bloody Richter! Seem's to have a monopoly on everything, he can't have been that good.... :-\ ;)
:D I think Chopin, in general, is free from his grip.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SimonGodders on June 07, 2007, 08:42:24 AM
:D I think Chopin, in general, is free from his grip.

I might have to disagree there with you Orbital, but realise he's not a first choice for many in Chopin... ;)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: orbital on June 07, 2007, 08:46:12 AM
I might have to disagree there with you Orbital, but realise he's not a first choice for many in Chopin... ;)
Except for a few etudes, he never piqued my interest there.

On the topic subject, I only have Ashkenazy as a full set (and whatever Richter has from either his Kiev or Prague series, can't remember which).  I like Ashkenazy, but I should try Nikolayeva too
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Steve on June 07, 2007, 01:59:57 PM
Sorry, for being late to this thread  ;)

I'd easily recommend this recording,

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/41kifOviecL._AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: The Mad Hatter on June 07, 2007, 02:31:11 PM
Sorry, for being late to this thread  ;)

I'd easily recommend this recording,

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/41kifOviecL._AA240_.jpg)

Heh, that's the one I pointed out in my first post - don't really like it. Too blurry a tone for my tastes, for one thing, and too much pedal - I like clarity, especially in polyphonic music.

I wonder if people who own all three could describe the strengths and weaknesses of the Scherbakov, Nikolayeva and Ashkenazy? Personally I don't think I'll go for the Richter, as I want a full set.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: BorisG on June 07, 2007, 05:02:48 PM
Scherbakov. Mustonen for op. 34.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: George on June 07, 2007, 05:49:03 PM
That bloody Richter! Seem's to have a monopoly on everything, he can't have been that good.... :-\ ;)

Your right, he can't. Yet, somehow, he is.  ::)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: sidoze on June 08, 2007, 12:52:37 AM
You can hear Richter playing Shostakovich here. Someone set it over the start of Tarr's Damnation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AR-A32mEZk
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: BachQ on June 08, 2007, 03:18:27 AM
Zimerman  :D 
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Steve on June 08, 2007, 11:05:33 AM
Heh, that's the one I pointed out in my first post - don't really like it. Too blurry a tone for my tastes, for one thing, and too much pedal - I like clarity, especially in polyphonic music.

I wonder if people who own all three could describe the strengths and weaknesses of the Scherbakov, Nikolayeva and Ashkenazy? Personally I don't think I'll go for the Richter, as I want a full set.

With the Jarett edition, whatever sonic-related issues are present, I consider his interpretation to a very welcome contribution to this work. I really didn't find the tone problematic, but then again, it's a recent purchase. I'll have to look into this some more. I'll be happy to dig up my other recordings of this piece for a comparison. Something tells me that my Ashkenazy would be a good place to start.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: The Mad Hatter on June 08, 2007, 12:25:03 PM
With the Jarett edition, whatever sonic-related issues are present, I consider his interpretation to a very welcome contribution to this work. I really didn't find the tone problematic, but then again, it's a recent purchase. I'll have to look into this some more. I'll be happy to dig up my other recordings of this piece for a comparison. Something tells me that my Ashkenazy would be a good place to start.

I ended up going with the Naxos. I think I'm in love.

Thank you, Harry, I am in your debt.
As for the Jarrett, it's technically accomplished, but it just...doesn't really grab me the way I hope a new piece of music will.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: carlos on June 08, 2007, 12:27:26 PM
I've a complete old version by Roger Woodward
(1975),which I like very much.
Also, 6 by Shosta himself. He was a fine pianist
(at least on his works).
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: XB-70 Valkyrie on November 12, 2007, 03:50:47 AM
We had a thread about this not too long ago, but my search yielded nothing. Anyway, I've been very much drawn to these by Richter's Decca 2CD set of Scriabin, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. I bought Konstantin Scherbakov's set on Naxos, and while he is obviously a fine pianist, I find I prefer Richter's more somber, and perhaps more romantic interpreations. (In any case, I am still interested in Scherbakov's other recordings!) I really relate to this music, however, and I need to find more recordings. I know they were written for Tatiana Nikolayeva, but there are at least three sets (Hyperion, Regis, and another Regis), and several single CDs of her playing these on the market. Which is to be preferred? Shostakovich himself recorded at least some of these, but I have not found these at either Arkiv or Amazon. What about Jarrett? What about Ashkenazy? (Is that 5 CD set of his, incl. the piano quinetet and other works any good??) I don't know how many Richter recorded, but I only have six on my Decca set. I wish I could find more. Who else is worthwhile in this repertoire?

 
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Don on November 12, 2007, 11:52:58 AM
I've always found Nikolaeyeva's sets the best - either Hyperion or Regis or Melodiya, take your pick.  Concerning other complete sets, none of them holds up well to Nikolayeva.  Ashkenazy and Scherbakov are nothing special, and Jarrett sometimes sounds like the lounge player at the local Holiday Inn.

Leaving Nikolayeva aside, I'd opt for Petrushansky (Dynamic) and Rubackyte (Brilliant Classics).  If you were to subscribe to the Naxos Music Library, you could listen to the entire Petrushansky - I was impressed.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: ragman1970 on November 12, 2007, 12:43:08 PM
I've always found Nikolaeyeva's sets the best - either Hyperion or Regis or Melodiya, take your pick.  Concerning other complete sets, none of them holds up well to Nikolayeva.  Ashkenazy and Scherbakov are nothing special, and Jarrett sometimes sounds like the lounge player at the local Holiday Inn.

Sherbakov doesn't come close to Nikplaeyeva!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: XB-70 Valkyrie on November 12, 2007, 03:48:36 PM
... Jarrett sometimes sounds like the lounge player at the local Holiday Inn.


Murph and the MagicTones--in those candy-ass monkey suits?

(http://www.bluesbrotherscentral.com/images/music1/song011.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on November 12, 2007, 05:49:24 PM
Nikolayeva (Regis) and Ashkenazy each have unique insights. Nikolayeva perhaps being more deadpan (which I enjoy).

I haven't heard Nikolayeva's Hyperion set from a couple years after the Regis/Melodiya but it's purportedly recorded in an overly resonant acoustic. Just a heads-up as that kind of thing can drive me batty (Regis is fine).

Richter recorded a fair number of these works but they are scattered around several labels (and time periods) and are not always easy to find.

You can find bits on Philips (newly reissued on Decca) from 1963, Doremi from 1974, London/Decca from 1989 (in very poor sound), Pyramid from 1973, and Supraphon (Ultraphon) from 1956 (below). The latter three are long OOP.

Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on November 12, 2007, 09:36:10 PM
In case anyone's interested, just ran across the above Ultraphon disc at Academy Records. (http://www.academy-records.com//index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=9110)



Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: BorisG on November 12, 2007, 09:56:35 PM
I am shocked at the slighting of Scherbakov on this thread. Gentlemen, you need a good thrashing. >:(
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: johnQpublic on November 13, 2007, 12:26:19 PM
you need a good thrashing.

Yes I do, but only from a sexy, nubile girl. Not from some guy named Boris....hehe
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: BorisG on November 13, 2007, 02:08:56 PM
Yes I do, but only from a sexy, nubile girl. Not from some guy named Boris....hehe

 :-*
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Daverz on November 14, 2007, 12:07:07 AM
I have the Nikolayeva on Melodiya/RCA, which is the same as the Regis.  I haven't heard the her Hyperion, but this Melodiya one is very fine.  I've hardly made a survey of these works, but Nikolayeva is very involving. 

Still, Scherbakov is a very fine Shostakovich player.  I highly recommend his Sonata No. 1 on Naxos.

I haven't heard Jarret, but I found his Bach very dull.

Richter recorded a few more of these, by the way, on Supraphon.


Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SonicMan46 on March 14, 2009, 09:27:50 AM
Boy, a thread on some great piano works laying dormant for nearly 2 years - guess I'll 'bump' it TTT!  :D

I still have the same 2 sets w/ Keith Jarrett & Konstantin Scherbakov; still like Scherbakov in these works, but was listening to Jarrett this morning (been a while) and find a lot of enjoyment (still have not done any 'back-to-back' comparisons of these two performers); of course, Tatiana Nikolayeva's name still seems to be a favorite for many here!

But, just wondering if any newer releases have appeared and have been well received?  Thanks -  :)


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41kifOviecL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51lAuRp1SmL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41V170K331L._SL500_AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Bulldog on March 14, 2009, 03:07:15 PM

But, just wondering if any newer releases have appeared and have been well received?  Thanks -  :)


Three that I'm aware of - Atma, Centaur and Brilliant Classics.  The Atma and Brilliant got some good reviews; don't know about the Centaur.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Brian on June 17, 2010, 01:53:39 PM
I'd like to bump this one in case anybody has had an encounter with this new offering from harmonia mundi:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41I9vLHA4vL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

2 CDs + a DVD with an interview of Melnikov by, of all people, Andreas Staier.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Scarpia on June 17, 2010, 02:01:16 PM
I originally know these from Ashkenazy's recording, but recently acquired this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/517y06AqztL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Daverz on June 17, 2010, 02:01:44 PM
I haven't heard Jarret, but I found his Bach very dull.

A friend brought over the Jarret set, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is in the P&Fs we sampled.  With more experience with these I'd have to say that Nikolayeva could be somewhat clunky in the second Melodiya recording made relatively late in her career.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Bulldog on June 17, 2010, 02:08:34 PM
I'd like to bump this one in case anybody has had an encounter with this new offering from harmonia mundi:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41I9vLHA4vL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

2 CDs + a DVD with an interview of Melnikov by, of all people, Andreas Staier.

As I noted on a another thread, I just ordered this set and will get back with some perceptions when I've heard it.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: ccar on June 19, 2010, 01:31:12 PM
The composer may not always be the “best” interpreter of his own works. But Shostakovich was himself a fine pianist and naturally it is interesting to listen to his own readings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuj5uzgmB5A (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuj5uzgmB5A)

Looking at the shelves I found 4 CDs with Dmitry Shostakovich playing various Preludes and Fugues (REVELATION 1952, REVELATION 1956, EMI 1958, CHANT DU MONDE 1958). These various recordings include 18 of the 24 op. 87 pieces played by the composer - No. 1-8, 12-14, 16-18, 20, 22-24.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41R330QA85L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)  (http://dschjournal.com/reviews/images/rv70008.jpg) (http://cdn.7static.com/static/img/sleeveart/00/001/603/0000160324_182.jpg) 
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k-k-k-kenny on June 21, 2010, 01:45:25 AM
Although I'm not deeply into it yet, I am finding Melnikov's enquiring traversal fascinating. He employs a far greater degree of contrast in both dynamics and tempo than either Nikolayeva (on Hyperion) or Ashkenazy.
Some might think it gaudy in places, but in light of his revelatory Scriabin and Rachmaninoff discs, I'll continue to give him the benefit of the doubt - though I see he has been little mentioned in these pages, he is a musician of the very first water.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Brian on July 17, 2010, 02:26:08 PM
Any further word on Melnikov? I do not own a recording of the complete P&Fs and have only heard a handful of them at present; I'm looking for a first and can possibly afford to buy two. It's a derby between Nikolayeva/Regis, Scherbakov/Naxos, and Melnikov/hm based on reputation, high contrast in styles, and fairly reasonable price point.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SonicMan46 on July 18, 2010, 05:32:56 AM
Any further word on Melnikov? I do not own a recording of the complete P&Fs and have only heard a handful of them at present; I'm looking for a first and can possibly afford to buy two. It's a derby between Nikolayeva/Regis, Scherbakov/Naxos, and Melnikov/hm based on reputation, high contrast in styles, and fairly reasonable price point.

Hi Brian - I'd love to hear comments (esp. from Don, the 'Bulldog') on Melnikov myself; but maybe another one to put into your mix - Jenny Lin - review by David Hurwitz HERE (http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=12199); personally, I own your first two listings above, plus Lin & Jarrett (my first set from way back) - Dave  :D

(http://giradman.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/ShostyPFsLin/764533423_xmZrn-O.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Bulldog on September 22, 2010, 02:12:10 PM
For those interested, Nikolayeva's first recording is finally available on cd - Doremi.  Cost appears to be in the $60 range - ouch!

I forgot to mention the Melnikov set on Harmonia Mundi.  After a few listenings, I am very impressed with his bold and individualized interpretations.  Nikolayeva remains my favorite, but Melnikov is now in 2nd place, well ahead of the remainder of the competition.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Brian on September 24, 2010, 04:30:01 AM
For those interested, Nikolayeva's first recording is finally available on cd - Doremi.  Cost appears to be in the $60 range - ouch!

Don, if you can tolerate MP3, sign up for eMusic. I acquired exactly that Doremi recording via eMusic in July or August, at a cost of 24 "credits" (about $12-15). Link to album. (http://www.emusic.com/album/Tatiana-Nikolayeva-Shostakovich-24-Preludes-and-Fugues-Op-87-MP3-Download/11958193.html)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Bulldog on September 24, 2010, 04:53:37 AM
Don, if you can tolerate MP3, sign up for eMusic. I acquired exactly that Doremi recording via eMusic in July or August, at a cost of 24 "credits" (about $12-15). Link to album. (http://www.emusic.com/album/Tatiana-Nikolayeva-Shostakovich-24-Preludes-and-Fugues-Op-87-MP3-Download/11958193.html)

Thanks for the info. 8)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Marc on September 24, 2010, 12:48:25 PM
For those interested, Nikolayeva's first recording is finally available on cd - Doremi.  Cost appears to be in the $60 range - ouch!
[....]
I think that high price is also caused by the extra DVD with Nikolayeva playing Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto:

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Doremi/DHR7991-3
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Bulldog on September 24, 2010, 01:59:24 PM
I think that high price is also caused by the extra DVD with Nikolayeva playing Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto:

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Doremi/DHR7991-3

Understood.  Unfortunately, she's playing the Tchaikovsky (of minimal interest to Bulldog).
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Marc on September 25, 2010, 01:03:03 AM
Understood. Unfortunately, she's playing the Tchaikovsky (of minimal interest to Bulldog).
Understood. MP3 it is, then. ;)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Bulldog on October 04, 2010, 09:41:13 AM
I just discovered that the Roger Woodward version of the 1970's has been newly released by Celestial Harmonies.  You can check it out on the Naxos Music Library.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SonicMan46 on October 04, 2010, 05:02:12 PM
I just discovered that the Roger Woodward version of the 1970's has been newly released by Celestial Harmonies.  You can check it out on the Naxos Music Library.

Don - did not know that this keyboardist went back that far!  :o

I have the WTC (complete) w/ him on the label above (i.e. CH) but these are recent recordings - Dave  :)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5190IyIr0wL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Daverz on October 07, 2010, 11:59:06 AM
I'd like to bump this one in case anybody has had an encounter with this new offering from harmonia mundi:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41I9vLHA4vL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

2 CDs + a DVD with an interview of Melnikov by, of all people, Andreas Staier.

There's a very positive review by Barry Brenesal in the Nov/Dec Fanfare:

"this version goes to the head of the class, tying with Nikolayeva’s 1962 reading (Doremi 7991), ahead of the pallid Jarrett (ECM 437189) and Rubackyté (Brilliant Classics 8463), flabby Petrushansky (Stradivarius 33763), cautious Weichert (Accord 4428213), and humorless Scherbakov (Naxos 8.554745/6). Ashkenazy’s reading (Decca 466 066) is something of a special case. I find it too mild, but others may prefer it to the strong character exhibited by both Melnikov and Nikolayeva. Finally, I’d put in a strong word for the excerpts of the work recorded by Shostakovich himself, with a few of these in their best current incarnations on EMI 62648."

There's also a review of the 1962 Nikolayeva.  Doremi does not have a good reputation for their transfers.  The review does complain about overfiltered treble.  Hopefully Melodiya will get around to this one themselves.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Philoctetes on October 07, 2010, 07:09:06 PM
Hi Brian - I'd love to hear comments (esp. from Don, the 'Bulldog') on Melnikov myself; but maybe another one to put into your mix - Jenny Lin - review by David Hurwitz HERE (http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=12199); personally, I own your first two listings above, plus Lin & Jarrett (my first set from way back) - Dave  :D

(http://giradman.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/ShostyPFsLin/764533423_xmZrn-O.jpg)

Fantastic interview with the pianist:

http://beta.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/2009/jul/15/jenny-lin-live/
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: karlhenning on October 08, 2010, 03:36:42 AM
There's a very positive review by Barry Brenesal in the Nov/Dec Fanfare [...]

Pah, Brenesal undercuts his own credibility with his one-word dismissal of Scherbakov as "humorless."
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SonicMan46 on November 04, 2010, 08:54:55 AM
Well, some more comments available on the Melnikov performances - recent issues (i.e. Nov-Dec) of Fanfare & ARG both have positive reviews; Don has him in 2nd place (behind his perennial fav!) - Scott Morrison in his Amazon review (and an owner of 7 sets) seems to put him at the top of his list.

There have been some complains on the packaging - 3 discs, the last one w/ a DVD layer and the cost - so have any others acquired these recordings?  If so, impressions?  I currently own the same 4 discussed in previously threads but have added this new one to my 'wish list' -  :D


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41QdUrdcXiL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Bulldog on November 04, 2010, 09:01:59 AM
Well, some more comments available on the Melnikov performances - recent issues (i.e. Nov-Dec) of Fanfare & ARG both have positive reviews; Don has him in 2nd place (behind his perennial fav!) - Scott Morrison in his Amazon review (and an owner of 7 sets) seems to put him at the top of his list.

There have been some complains on the packaging - 3 discs, the last one w/ a DVD layer and the cost - so have any others acquired these recordings?  If so, impressions?  I currently own the same 4 discussed in previously threads but have added this new one to my 'wish list' -  :D


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41QdUrdcXiL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Just to let you know that Arkiv Music now has the Melnikov set on sale for $22.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Mandryka on August 26, 2011, 11:39:24 PM
What do you guys thing of Olli Mustonen's 4  CDs? The ones with the Bach WTC interspersed?

(http://i3.fastpic.ru/big/2009/1023/c7/f90c8ae7a1b80345e540935fd383a6c7.jpg) (http://i3.fastpic.ru/big/2009/1023/9a/393adabe86637b28ae44582d313fe19a.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: karlhenning on August 27, 2011, 05:15:49 AM
I’ve Vol. 1, but it's a while since I listened . . . .
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on August 27, 2011, 05:31:49 AM
What do you guys thing of Olli Mustonen's 4  CDs? The ones with the Bach WTC interspersed?

(http://i3.fastpic.ru/big/2009/1023/c7/f90c8ae7a1b80345e540935fd383a6c7.jpg) (http://i3.fastpic.ru/big/2009/1023/9a/393adabe86637b28ae44582d313fe19a.jpg)


I've been eyeballing these as well. I have Mustonen's disc with Shostakovich's Op.34 Preludes and it's an unqualified success.



(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/b8/b9/1781124128a0ef16dcf96010.L.jpg)

Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: karlhenning on August 27, 2011, 09:49:21 AM
I like Olli very well in the Hindemith Ludus tonalis
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: PaulSC on August 27, 2011, 12:18:55 PM
What do you guys thing of Olli Mustonen's 4  CDs? The ones with the Bach WTC interspersed?

(http://i3.fastpic.ru/big/2009/1023/c7/f90c8ae7a1b80345e540935fd383a6c7.jpg) (http://i3.fastpic.ru/big/2009/1023/9a/393adabe86637b28ae44582d313fe19a.jpg)

I have and enjoy both 2-CD sets. I think it's a shame that the two cycles — Bach and Shostakovich — are intermixed. The Shostakovich performances are gems. Mustonen's ultra-precise touch makes for an electrifying experience in fast movements like the A minor Prelude. He's also successful with more lyrical movements, although I prefer a lusher sound. (Well, my all-around favorite recording of the Shostakovich is Keith Jarrett's, which I know is not to everyone's liking.)

As for the WTC recordings, they earn my more qualified approval. Mustonen certainly has a strong point of view and is able to bring it to life in his performances. He achieves a very wide dynamic range, and his distinctive “molto staccato” touch is at its most razor-sharp. I find a little goes a long way, but it's nice to have his cycle along the dozen or so others in my collection. (Personally, I find Glenn Gould to be a less enjoyable “interventionist” interpreter.)

Incidentally, I'm in the middle of a Diabelli Variations kick. Mustonen's recording does nothing for me, although I know it has its fans. I guess what I'm saying is, even if you are familiar with his pianistic voice, it's hard to predict how well it will work for you in other repertoire.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: DieNacht on August 27, 2011, 12:43:07 PM
Concerning Mustonen, yes his style is very personal and sometimes practically stands in for the composer´s own work. The crystalline/pointilist playing works very well in the Sibelius miniatures CD and the Beethoven Folk Song Variations op.107/Sonata 30 CD IMO, but it becomes irritating in the Stravinsky Capriccio or the Beethoven 1st Concerto, I think. Can´t say if this applies to the Shostakovich pieces, since I only heard a few long time ago.

The old Concert Hall LP where Shostakovich plays some of the Preludes & Fugues himself (as already mentioned this and some more pieces have been re-issued on CD) is one of the best recordings made by Shostakovich, Í think; his tempos are rather extreme, adding a lot of melancoly to the slow pieces and some angsty disturbance to the faster ones, cf

http://www.discogs.com/Shostakovich-Shostakovh-Plays-Shostakovich-Seven-Preludes-And-Fugues-For-Piano/release/1637851
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Brian on August 27, 2011, 12:55:03 PM
Listened to Scherbakov 1-12 and loved his luminous touch - bit of a soft-focus glow - very different from the other recordings I have (Nikolayeva I, coldly neobaroque, and Shostakovich himself, totally unsentimental).
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on August 27, 2011, 08:53:34 PM
I like Olli very well in the Hindemith Ludus tonalis

That's another Mustonen disc I'd like to have but so far Amazon's sellers keep it priced out of reach.


Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Mandryka on September 02, 2011, 01:10:55 AM
I listened today to TN's first record of Op87/20 -- the C minor prelude and fugue. I can hardly imagine a more wooden and colourless interpretation of the prelude and she makes the fugue into an elephant's dance.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Bulldog on September 02, 2011, 05:19:05 PM
I listened today to TN's first record of Op87/20 -- the C minor prelude and fugue. I can hardly imagine a more wooden and colourless interpretation of the prelude and she makes the fugue into an elephant's dance.

For me, the C minor is hard-core and very bleak; Nikolayeva plays it just the way I want it.  You obviously want something else from this music.  I hope you have found it.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Fagotterdämmerung on January 26, 2015, 12:31:42 PM

  This is one of my favorite Shostakovich works - any new recordings worth looking into the past few years? What are everyone's favorites?
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Ken B on January 26, 2015, 12:43:36 PM
  This is one of my favorite Shostakovich works - any new recordings worth looking into the past few years? What are everyone's favorites?

Oodles. It was rare once and is now trendy. Most in the past few years.

I like the Hyperion Nikolayevna. That puts me in the minority. Most prefer the earlier one which is also good. Some heretics don't like her at all, but that's what stakes and matches are for.

 I just got this



Canadian content, and like it so far.
I'm less happy with Keith Jarrett. Also it seems a minority opinion. The Naxos set is good too.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on January 27, 2015, 02:17:18 PM
I like the Hyperion Nikolayevna. That puts me in the minority.

Me too.  In fact it was my first-ever CD(s).  Having already acquired about 800 LPs you understand.
That recording single-handedly converted me to the merits of the (then) new CD format.

My favourite though is Jenny Lin

Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: betterthanfine on January 28, 2015, 04:08:03 AM
This thread inspired me to give the Melnikov (which I've owned for a while, but had never played before) a spin yesterday. Absolutely wonderful, both the music and the performance.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 28, 2015, 10:28:03 AM
Yes: Melnikov, Rubackyté, Shcherbakov, yea, even Mustonen . . . .
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Fagotterdämmerung on January 29, 2015, 04:09:02 PM
   I went a little strange the past few days and listened to the Jarrett, Melnikov, Lin, and Scherbakov, one after the other. I think the Scherbakov is my favorite, though I liked the Jarrett quite a bit too.

   I don't know exactly why I find these pieces so endlessly listenable. ( Though, that being said, I have a strong preference for the fugues over the preludes, regardless of performer. )
 
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 30, 2015, 03:02:27 AM
Scherbakov is splendid.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 30, 2015, 09:29:58 PM
Ashkenazy's set is really, really nice. Right up there with Richter's morsels and Shostakovich's own scattered recordings.





Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 16, 2020, 03:24:46 AM
*bump*

So I discovered we had a thread dedicated to recordings of this amazing work.

So amazing, that (contrary to my normal habits) I now deliberately have 3 recordings of it. 2 recently acquired.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41a9nSVJY8L.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lL6apS--L._SX522_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61BQRy1cFHL._SX466_.jpg)

They all have strengths and weaknesses I think... I have an inclination to compare them piece by piece and thought this thread might be a good place to do it, if no-one objects.

I should make one note about the Melnikov recording. It's original format has been mentioned here and was incredibly awkward, with 3 discs and the 3rd one being a DVD but with P&F 24 in D minor also on that disc in audio.  It was subsequently reissued in a plain old 2-CD set, with all the pieces accommodated that way. Far more sensible, and Lord knows why they didn't have that format in the first place even with the DVD as a bonus.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Brian on March 16, 2020, 05:23:53 AM
Please do feel free to post your comparisons and thoughts! I think that this work has so far attracted performers of such high caliber that comparison will only yield more insight into the music, rather than becoming a game of "who is better than who". Which is really a great thing (I wish "who is better" didn't predominate quite so much on here...perhaps why I love the blind listening games).
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 16, 2020, 05:53:32 AM
Please do feel free to post your comparisons and thoughts! I think that this work has so far attracted performers of such high caliber that comparison will only yield more insight into the music, rather than becoming a game of "who is better than who". Which is really a great thing (I wish "who is better" didn't predominate quite so much on here...perhaps why I love the blind listening games).

+1
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: (: premont :) on March 16, 2020, 12:38:30 PM
Please do feel free to post your comparisons and thoughts! I think that this work has so far attracted performers of such high caliber that comparison will only yield more insight into the music, rather than becoming a game of "who is better than who". Which is really a great thing (I wish "who is better" didn't predominate quite so much on here...perhaps why I love the blind listening games).

Agree completely. This is similar to other great music e.g. Art of Fugue. The more great recordings the better.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias on March 16, 2020, 01:00:31 PM
I'll copy what I wrote in Dmitri's Dacha on Boris Petrushansky. Since this post I've listened to Op. 87 a few times, overall extremely fine performances. Thought I would mention his recording since I don't think I've seen him brought up often with Op. 87.

In Op. 87 I managed to listen to up the 4th Fugue from Boris Petrushansky, he is damn good. In Prelude No. 3 I was quite impressed by the very clear articulation between the powerful/dynamic playing of the left hand and concise, gentle playing of the right. And Prelude No. 4 had loads of the imminent pathos. There is a certain effortlessness to his playing that makes me want to keep listening.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 16, 2020, 03:34:12 PM
I plan on grouping a few pieces together in my notes rather than giving you 24 separate ones, so there might be a bit of time in between each entry.

I did listen to C major over breakfast, but some of them will be harder going than that one!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 17, 2020, 04:21:07 AM
Right, here goes. I think 4 pieces is about the right length of post...

C major – in the plainest and purest of pieces, Lin gives the plainest presentation, perhaps just a little colourless though it’s not bad. Melnikov, by contrast, gives the prelude a romantic sense of hanging in the air, full of meaningful pauses. The problem is he lets the hazy feel continue into the fugue and it feels too slow for a Moderato. Nikolayeva is the fastest in both halves (something I will rarely say in these assessments), with room for a few pauses in the prelude but also a little bit of momentum.  Score one for Nikolayeva.

A minor – The classic semiquaver prelude and short fugue don’t leave a lot of room for interpretation. Nevertheless, Lin manages to shave a few seconds off the prelude and turn the semiquavers into a fascinating rush. I’m not sure whether I prefer it or not, but it’s different to the other 2 and it kinda works. She also has both the recording engineers and the fingerwork to create a fugue of superb clarity. Whereas Nikolayeva is maybe a fraction messy in a couple of spots.

G major – There’s not a huge amount to choose between the 3 performances, all seem to work though I might fractionally prefer Lin’s. She manages to give the prelude a march-like, slightly sardonic character, making it sound like an example of the forced rejoicing Shostakovich sometimes created. The other 2 preludes are more straightforward Russian hammering. Melnikov’s fugue is incredibly fast, and it’s kind of exhilarating. But it’s not as if the others are slow.

E minor – Well I have opinions about this one as I’ve played it for exams... tempos are a real issue here, with Andante for the prelude being hard to judge and the double fugue requiring a gear change (Adagio followed by piu mosso). In the prelude, Nikolayeva is arguably a bit slow, though I prefer that to Lin who doesn’t give the piece enough weight. Lin’s fugue also starts too fast and lightly (I’m sure it’s 4/4, not 2/2 like the C major) and so she doesn’t really have as much room to move when it’s time to accelerate. It’s Melnikov that convinces me the most. His prelude hits a sweet spot, and while the opening of his fugue arguably isn’t a true Adagio his tempo relationships work, with an appreciable gear change and intensification.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 17, 2020, 06:37:00 AM
Most interesting, thanks!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Iota on March 17, 2020, 07:09:19 AM
Interesting reading, Madiel! I look forward to further instalments.

I agree Melnikov is excellent in the E minor p&f. The fugue builds to a magnificent climax, though who knows if he had started with a more marked Adagio it may have been even greater.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 18, 2020, 03:40:43 AM
.(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41a9nSVJY8L.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lL6apS--L._SX522_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61BQRy1cFHL._SX466_.jpg)

Comparison part 2.

D major – It feels as if Melnikov is trying to give one of the sunniest pieces an edge that it doesn’t need. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Nikolayeva’s performance... but then Lin’s fractionally more relaxed take is utterly gorgeous, one of her very best.

B minor – Major tempo questions here. How fast should the dramatic Allegretto prelude be? What about the relentless muffled tread of the fugue marked Moderato? Nikolayeva is the one I’m used to, but objectively she’s too slow for either of those markings. The first bars of the fugue are at pace, but she slows right down the moment she hits the countersubject that dominates. Even if she’s able to bring lots of gravity, it’s not clear it’s the feel Shostakovich wanted. The other 2 performers create preludes where you feel a bar as the main unit instead of a crochet, and fugues where the main unit is a crotchet instead of a quaver. But Lin presses the music a little too much for my taste, and I find myself preferring Melnikov. His fugue has a beautiful flow to it.

A major – The carillon-like fugue is marked to be always legato, and positively begs for generous use of pedal. Lin decides for some reason to make it slightly detached and more like a trumpet fanfare. This would sound fine if (a) you’ve never heard another version and (b) you’ve never seen that the score SAYS legato sempre. But I’ve done both those things and so she loses points.

F sharp minor – Lin’s prelude is notable for being a real (and very successful) scherzo, whereas the others are a bit more like a ticking clock. The big difference is in the fugue; just how painful should that sighing be? Lin takes 5:32 (with no sense of pain at all, just determination) and Melnikov takes 8:23 (I’m afraid the patient isn’t going to make it). But it’s Nikolayeva that seems to find the right balance. Perhaps at 7:21 it’s a trifle slow to be a true Andante, but she gives the music both flow and room to breathe.



EDIT: More on the B minor and F sharp minor fugues... in Nikolayeva's hands they always felt very much like a similar pair. And arguably in Lin's hands you'd get the same impression, with both of them much faster. It's only when you look across all these performances that you think hang on, Shostakovich gave these 2 fugues different tempo markings so maybe they shouldn't sound quite so similar to each other. The B minor needs to press forward a bit and the F sharp minor needs to hang back.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 19, 2020, 03:38:20 AM
E major – Apart from Lin’s faster prelude giving a slightly different feel, there really isn’t much difference in approach between the 3 performances. They’re all perfectly fine.

C sharp minor – In the prelude, Lin’s clearer semiquavers contrast with Melnikov’s more impressionistic haze. But both approaches work, and similarly in the fugue no-one chooses an unreasonable speed or does anything that feels inappropriate.  Perhaps Nikolayeva has the best of both worlds, matching Lin’s tempo with more shaping like Melnikov, but the margin is small.

B major – Nikolayeva sounds okay on her own, but in comparison you realise she’s a little slow and the fugue gets laboured. Melnikov plays with the tempo a lot in the prelude (at least some speed changes are in the score), and while it’s interesting I think ultimately Lin’s steadier pulse and crisp articulation suit the music better, and she does just as well in the matching fugue.

G sharp minor – Nikolayeva is good. She gives the prelude a lot of gravity and then attacks the difficult first half of the fugue with relentless force. Melnikov is perhaps even better. His prelude has intensity, and the fractionally more measured start of the fugue gives him room to gradually ramp up the pressure, before the climax and collapse has a distinct shape. Against this competition, Lin’s prelude is decent... but her fugue sounds mechanical rather than passionate. The climax scarcely registers.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 21, 2020, 10:27:38 PM
Part 4. A couple of these ones got lengthy, like the only two Adagio fugues in the work...

F sharp major - The times in the long fugue vary wildly: Lin takes 3:56, Melnikov 4:44 and Nikolayeva 7:34. Lin very much gives a feel of one beat per bar rather than two. Nikolayeva is arguably closer to the right speed for Adagio, but on the slower end of that range and she adds further hesitations. While this piece seems to sound nice no matter what’s done to it, the result is extremely static. Not for the first time, I’m unsure whether Melnikov delivers a true Adagio, but he’s probably closest to giving the fugue a combination of coherent musical sense and feeling. He also probably has the edge in the prelude which he gives a particularly lovely shape.

E flat minor – There isn’t much difference in approach here. All 3 pianists take the fugue with a swinging 1-in-a-bar feel which is plausible. Perhaps Melnikov and Lin generate a little more drama in the prelude than Nikolayeva does with her more distant recording.

D flat major – Nikolayeva arguably ends up being the best overall bet. In the prelude her heavy-footed waltz has plenty of character, and she gives the fugue a suitably wild feel. The outer sections of Melnikov’s prelude are too driven, not suitable for Allegretto and not distinct from the character of the fugue, though the central section is wonderfully delicate. He clears the technical difficulties of the fugue easily. As for Lin, well she’s able to give the waltz in the prelude a nice spring and a dash of Shostakovich's sarcasm, but then the fugue is a major disappointment. It sounds so safe and pedestrian.

B flat minor – How fast should the extraordinarily strange fugue go? When you look at the score it’s hard to argue that Lin, the fastest performer, is going too fast.  The problem with her fugue is that, even at this pace, the music gets a bit uninteresting. Is Nikolayeva, who takes an extra 3 minutes, going too slow? I’m not sure. The lack of overall momentum as notes trickle down makes some sense in this music, but again, it’s eventually hard to sustain interest in the effect. I don’t know how much of this is Shostakovich’s ‘fault’.

Melnikov then? His basic pulse for the fugue isn’t all that different from Lin, but he arguably shapes the music with the extra character that it really needs. The problem with Melnikov is that he seems to be in too much of a hurry in the prelude (which the other 2 pianists perform pretty well). The acceleration of notes is less effective when the initial theme doesn’t have that much room to breathe. So I end up with no-one convincing me that they’ve nailed the piece. I’m tempted to pair Lin’s prelude with Melnikov’s fugue and see how that goes.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 22, 2020, 04:45:12 AM
Very much enjoying your survey.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Kaga2 on March 22, 2020, 07:24:49 AM
I love these. I think I have five sets. I first heard some of them decades ago when only a partial recording by Richter could be had. Now I cannot keep up! Which is a good thing.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 22, 2020, 07:25:43 AM
I love these. I think I have five sets. I first heard some of them decades ago when only a partial recording by Richter could be had. Now I cannot keep up! Which is a good thing.

Aye: great problem to have!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias on March 22, 2020, 01:05:16 PM
I love these. I think I have five sets. I first heard some of them decades ago when only a partial recording by Richter could be had. Now I cannot keep up! Which is a good thing.

Great performances from Richter, how nice would it have been if Richter recorded all of them :( I think Shostakovich organized these brilliantly and it doesn't sound right to me playing a partial set. For me these aren't miniatures like some of Chopin, Scriabin, etc.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Kaga2 on March 22, 2020, 01:13:08 PM
Great performances from Richter, how nice would it have been if Richter recorded all of them :( I think Shostakovich organized these brilliantly and it doesn't sound right to me playing a partial set. For me these aren't miniatures like some of Chopin, Scriabin, etc.

I agree. Odd that they took so long to get established, with a name like Richter advocating for them.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 22, 2020, 02:01:28 PM
Great performances from Richter, how nice would it have been if Richter recorded all of them :( I think Shostakovich organized these brilliantly and it doesn't sound right to me playing a partial set. For me these aren't miniatures like some of Chopin, Scriabin, etc.

I would fully agree that there's a deliberate design across the entire set. And Melnikov's own liner notes spend a considerable amount of time arguing why it's a complete cycle.

I tend to regard Chopin's op.28 as a single work as well.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: The new erato on March 22, 2020, 02:23:54 PM
Igor Levitt was scheduled to play them in Rosendal last august, but became ill at the last minute. I wonder if there is a recording in the pipeline?
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 22, 2020, 09:48:04 PM
.(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41a9nSVJY8L.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lL6apS--L._SX522_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61BQRy1cFHL._SX466_.jpg)

Nearly there, only one more part to go after this...

A flat major – All 3 pianists have slightly different takes on the lyricism of the prelude and the dance of the fugue (though Lin and Nikolayeva in particular are quite similar in tempo), and all of them work pretty well. My instinct is to slightly prefer the marginally more robust approach by Nikolayeva, though I don’t know if that’s just familiarity. None of them will disappoint in my view.

F minor – Again, there’s a little bit of variety in approach, but not too much. Everything works reasonably well, except that Nikolayeva’s prelude is probably a bit too slow for Moderato.

E flat major – Nikolayeva’s prelude is distinctly slower than the others and (while the others are okay) I would say she makes more sense of the character of the music. She makes the first idea a chorale and the second a sinister waltz, which seems appropriately Allegretto. I also like her fugue. Lin’s fugue is impressive and definitely worth hearing. Melnikov makes the fugue sound a bit staid, with a very marked 5 beats a bar rather than letting the tritones flow in and out of the music.

C minor – The prelude and fugue both start with the same material, but the prelude is marked Adagio and the fugue Moderato. It’s probably preferable to make the prelude a bit fast, as Lin does, than to make the fugue a bit slow as Nikolayeva does. Melnikov trumps them both by giving by far the clearest sense of the atmosphere of each half, having marginally both the slowest prelude and the fastest fugue without either feeling exaggerated.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 25, 2020, 04:40:26 AM
B flat major – All 3 performances are decent, but I think I slightly prefer Lin. The music benefits both from her clarity and from her being the one who seems to heed that the fugue is marked Allegro non troppo. Melnikov positively races for the finish line in comparison.

G minor – Melnikov and Lin both give a very nice flow to the music. Nikolayeva is okay but sounds a bit too measured in comparison. By the time she gets to the end of the fugue it feels bogged down.

F major – For some reason all of the pianists believe the semiquaver figure in the prelude needs to be pushed and pulled, which I don’t love (though it’s most noticeable with Lin). Lin and Melnikov both pick a better tempo than Nikolayeva, giving the Adagio a gentle sense of flow whereas Nikolayeva’s is a bit ponderous. Everyone’s fugues sound pretty good, but I think I slightly prefer Lin’s fractionally slower rendition (and Nikolayeva is the fastest).

D minor – The grand finale. And it needs to be grand. Nikolayeva is fully committed to making it a drama, but she stalls in the first part of the fugue because she makes it the same pace as the prelude (Andante is supposed to shift to Moderato). Lin has much better tempo relationships. She also has less apparent drama for much of it, but during the second half of the fugue I found myself realising that she’d gradually increased the passion and it was completely there when it needed to be for the climax. Melnikov tends to share a little more of Nikolayeva’s sense of emotional weight while having more workable tempos, so perhaps he just edges Lin though not my much. Goodness knows I was feeling like I’d had a workout near the end of his fugue. I just wish he’d held the final notes longer!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 25, 2020, 05:07:58 AM
Right. So where that does that leave me?

I've decided in the end not to go back and specifically score "wins" because some of those wins are by a fair margin, some of them are borderline and in some cases I might as well have called a draw. There are times when I've trying to decide whether someone's great prelude is more important than someone's excellent fugue.

I suspect, though, that if I tried to make this mathematical then Melnikov might come up trumps. But that impression might also be because he tends to be a success in some 'bigger' or profound pieces (more on that in a moment) whereas Lin's greatest triumphs are in lighter ones. I was only doing this with 3 pianists, and even then all 3 of them have sometimes been my clear winner and sometimes been my clear loser. For me they all crash a little somewhere across the 48 movements, and also have some very satisfying moments.

Nikolayeva is the reason I got to know and fall in love with this music in the first place. She can make the music sound very Russian and give it weight and drama. However, there are also plenty of times that she makes it drag. There were certain pieces, especially in the 2nd half, that I used to find myself mentally switching off in, and I now know that it was Nikolayeva making it ponderous. It's often considered that she recorded the Hyperion set past her prime, and at some point I'll have to try her 2 earlier ones. But there are still real successes here, including times when she lets the music move more and times when her decision to let the music breathe longer proves to be the wiser choice.

Lin's rendition is very different. Her touch is light and clean and this brings huge benefits in pieces that need a sense of dance or lift. Some of her best moments are actually when she's a little bit slower and still brings lift to the music at the same time. Against that, she can't always bring as much sense of weight to the music that wants it, and in the 2 most furious fugues (G sharp minor and D flat major) she sounds like she's afraid of them.

Melnikov often shares elements of Nikolayeva's musical sense without taking on her more laboured tempos. He has more tendency to shape the music in a more 'Romantic' conception, pushing and pulling. And in many cases he does this beautifully, managing some of the more emotionally charged pieces exceptionally well. But in other cases I think he goes overboard.

One of the things I've long been aware of is the sheer variety of music in op.87, covering everything from the almost Renaissance-sounding B flat minor prelude and fugue to the very modern D flat major one. Some pieces have classical poise and others have romantic drama. If anything, this exercise has really demonstrated just how challenging it is for one pianist to adjust themselves to cover the whole range.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Kaga2 on March 25, 2020, 06:20:40 AM
Interesting summary. Of these I only have Tatianna. She was also how I got to love these. I think she will always be my favorite because I imprinted on her. Like Boehm and Mozart.  I will see if I can dig out one of my other ones today though.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Irons on March 27, 2020, 12:50:52 AM
Interesting summary indeed. Madiel, after getting to know these works so well, and allowing for the fact they are not typical of him, would it be fanciful to claim that the Preludes and Fugues contain some of Shostakovich's finest music? If not, where would you place them?
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 27, 2020, 01:14:27 AM
Madiel, after getting to know these works so well, and allowing for the fact they are not typical of him, would it be fanciful to claim that the Preludes and Fugues contain some of Shostakovich's finest music? If not, where would you place them?

I do think they're right up there, yes (and I agree that they don't seem typical). And I've previously seen someone argue that op.87 is Shostakovich's masterpiece, so it's not an unusual claim to make.

What I think is remarkable about them is the sense that it's a single, epic work, not 24 little separate works. The moods and styles seem very much planned for overall variety and contrast and even progression, so that for example you get the fierce number 12 followed by the serene number 13, then things escalate over numbers 14 and 15 before number 16 drops the temperature down again. In this I see the model as being more Chopin's 24 Preludes (and perhaps Shostakovich's own previous set of 24 Preludes which I don't know very well yet), rather than Bach.

And as well as some really clear examples of integrating a prelude and fugue pair, there are examples where it seems pretty likely that Shostakovich took a figure from one piece and deliberately used it in another (for example, the prelude in E minor starts with a quaver figure that matches one in the prelude in G major).

There's a notion that it's all too academic and of course at the time Shostakovich got accused of the great Soviet artistic sin of 'formalism', but to me it's truly remarkable just how unacademic the results are. Within the formal strictures, Shostakovich created music of astonishing range.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Kaga2 on March 27, 2020, 06:45:57 AM
I certainly think they are his best music, and very great music indeed. They are not really typical though are they? I am trying to think of another example like this. Holst maybe and the Planets?
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Irons on March 27, 2020, 12:23:43 PM
You do get the feeling that you would be able to spend a lifetime listening to them and would still discover new things. Great music can be listened at all levels, the academic and someone like myself with no musical training whatever can get so much from them.

Mozart paid homage to Bach as many other composers, but I cannot think of any work that is so different from what is the accepted style of a composer’s output.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 27, 2020, 01:00:28 PM
Some of it is still very Shostakovich. The D flat prelude is very much one of HIS waltzes. He did passacaglias like the G sharp minor prelude a number of times before and after (eg in the string quartets). And there are other pieces with a Russian or sardonic tinge to them.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Iota on March 28, 2020, 01:56:20 PM

Thanks for your thoughts and review of the Shostakovich, Madiel, very interesting reading. I agree with many of your points, amongst others, it feeling like a cycle in the Chopin Op.28 manner, and Melnikov's often being a more 'romantic' conception. In terms of building climaxes he is the most persuasive I know, the final D minor fugue sends shivers up my spine, in that way surpassing even Sherbakov whom overall I prefer.

And I very particularly  agree with this:

There's a notion that it's all too academic and of course at the time Shostakovich got accused of the great Soviet artistic sin of 'formalism', but to me it's truly remarkable just how unacademic the results are. Within the formal strictures, Shostakovich created music of astonishing range.

I'd be interested to hear what you think of Scherbakov, if you ever stray that way.

Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on March 28, 2020, 02:52:27 PM
I might try Scherbakov on streaming. I know a lot of people like him.

When I was 'sampling' various recordings rather than listening in full, and deciding what to buy (the process that ended up leading me to purchase Lin and Melnikov), I remember finding Scherbakov rather promising but then finding a few instances where he did something I found very odd and off-putting.

But that was when my reference point was primarily what I knew from Nikolayeva, plus a little knowledge of the score (some P&Fs much more than others). Now that I've got to know several versions I might feel differently.

PS Melnikov's ability to shape the music for a climax really is good, isn't it!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 28, 2020, 04:04:24 PM
Aye!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: milk on July 03, 2021, 03:18:56 AM
Right. So where that does that leave me?

I've decided in the end not to go back and specifically score "wins" because some of those wins are by a fair margin, some of them are borderline and in some cases I might as well have called a draw. There are times when I've trying to decide whether someone's great prelude is more important than someone's excellent fugue.

I suspect, though, that if I tried to make this mathematical then Melnikov might come up trumps. But that impression might also be because he tends to be a success in some 'bigger' or profound pieces (more on that in a moment) whereas Lin's greatest triumphs are in lighter ones. I was only doing this with 3 pianists, and even then all 3 of them have sometimes been my clear winner and sometimes been my clear loser. For me they all crash a little somewhere across the 48 movements, and also have some very satisfying moments.

Nikolayeva is the reason I got to know and fall in love with this music in the first place. She can make the music sound very Russian and give it weight and drama. However, there are also plenty of times that she makes it drag. There were certain pieces, especially in the 2nd half, that I used to find myself mentally switching off in, and I now know that it was Nikolayeva making it ponderous. It's often considered that she recorded the Hyperion set past her prime, and at some point I'll have to try her 2 earlier ones. But there are still real successes here, including times when she lets the music move more and times when her decision to let the music breathe longer proves to be the wiser choice.

Lin's rendition is very different. Her touch is light and clean and this brings huge benefits in pieces that need a sense of dance or lift. Some of her best moments are actually when she's a little bit slower and still brings lift to the music at the same time. Against that, she can't always bring as much sense of weight to the music that wants it, and in the 2 most furious fugues (G sharp minor and D flat major) she sounds like she's afraid of them.

Melnikov often shares elements of Nikolayeva's musical sense without taking on her more laboured tempos. He has more tendency to shape the music in a more 'Romantic' conception, pushing and pulling. And in many cases he does this beautifully, managing some of the more emotionally charged pieces exceptionally well. But in other cases I think he goes overboard.

One of the things I've long been aware of is the sheer variety of music in op.87, covering everything from the almost Renaissance-sounding B flat minor prelude and fugue to the very modern D flat major one. Some pieces have classical poise and others have romantic drama. If anything, this exercise has really demonstrated just how challenging it is for one pianist to adjust themselves to cover the whole range.
Thanks for this. I really appreciate it. Have you heard Donohoe? Well, anyway, I've been branching out. I'd love for anyone to do another comparison with different pianists. I really enjoyed this.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 03, 2021, 03:25:24 AM
No, I don't know Donohoe. I really need to get around to trying Scherbakov though. That's the one I'm most keen on hearing.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: milk on July 03, 2021, 03:29:17 AM
No, I don't know Donohoe. I really need to get around to trying Scherbakov though. That's the one I'm most keen on hearing.
I'm going to try it right now then.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SonicMan46 on July 03, 2021, 06:25:33 AM
So I discovered we had a thread dedicated to recordings of this amazing work.

So amazing, that (contrary to my normal habits) I now deliberately have 3 recordings of it. 2 recently acquired.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/810Cgy9BAeL._SL1200_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lL6apS--L._SX522_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61BQRy1cFHL._SX466_.jpg)

They all have strengths and weaknesses I think... I have an inclination to compare them piece by piece and thought this thread might be a good place to do it, if no-one objects.

I should make one note about the Melnikov recording. It's original format has been mentioned here and was incredibly awkward, with 3 discs and the 3rd one being a DVD but with P&F 24 in D minor also on that disc in audio.  It was subsequently reissued in a plain old 2-CD set, with all the pieces accommodated that way. Far more sensible, and Lord knows why they didn't have that format in the first place even with the DVD as a bonus.

Well, I now have the 3 recordings above in the quoted post by Madiel (note that I switched out the covers of Tatiana Nikolaeva for Konstantin Scherbakov - I had all 4 recordings at one point but 'culled out' Nikolaeva probably after some A:B listenings and review reading?) - but have not put these on in a while, so will listen to the first discs of each set.  Madiel has already provided excellent notes from auditioning the three originally shown, but I'll be interested in hearing comments about Scherbakov?  Some reviews attached, mostly of Lin's recordings (including our own Jens on MusicWeb).  Dave :)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Mandryka on July 03, 2021, 07:08:14 AM
I'd like to hear people's opinions about Roger Woodward.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: SonicMan46 on July 03, 2021, 07:44:36 AM
I'd like to hear people's opinions about Roger Woodward.

Unaware!  :D 8)  Boy, recordings from c. 1975 and held in the vaults - my only recording of his are Bach's WTC Bks. I/II, which I do enjoy.  Reading the attached reviews, his is likely the 'fastest' set on record w/ some quirkiness like Keith Jarrett (which was in my collection) - just checked Spotify and the recording is there, so will take a listen.  Thanks.  Dave :)

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61TxLYq-rWL._SL1209_.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71DqUtobNpL._SL1215_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: amw on July 03, 2021, 12:18:10 PM
I'd like to hear people's opinions about Roger Woodward.
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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Mandryka on July 03, 2021, 06:26:20 PM
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.

Does he discuss his approach in the booklet?
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: amw on July 03, 2021, 09:34:00 PM
Does he discuss his approach in the booklet?
I wouldn’t know, I don’t have it.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel 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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel 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...
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Mandryka on July 04, 2021, 12:31:39 AM
I wouldn’t know, I don’t have it.

Here you are

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

(July 4 prezzie)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: amw 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.,
https://www.youtube.com/v/gF-TmWzIpFI

Here you are

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

(July 4 prezzie)
Thanks.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel 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.,
https://www.youtube.com/v/gF-TmWzIpFI

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!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: amw 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?)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel 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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: T. D. 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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Mandryka 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

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51kuh7skGXL._AC_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel 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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk 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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel 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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 04, 2021, 05:52:22 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61TxLYq-rWL._SX425_.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: milk on July 05, 2021, 03:22:56 AM
Just my 2 cents.
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/710Z-4BsWUL._SY355_.jpg)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 05, 2021, 04:31:05 AM
It's on the list. But there are 11 on the list and it's 9th...
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: milk 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...
 
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Brian 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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 05, 2021, 06:18:33 AM
(* chortle *)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias 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.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 05, 2021, 12:45:07 PM
I should revisit the Scherbakov
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 05, 2021, 12:57:58 PM
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.

Just looking at Petrushansky’s timings is enough to scare me, frankly. S   L   O   W.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 05, 2021, 09:46:02 PM
Next one I listened to...

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91wcie+sFtL._SS500_.jpg)

I quite like this, really. First and foremost, there wasn't a single piece where I thought the tempo choice or other core aspects of the performance was weird. Sure, there are cases where it's not how I would envisage the piece, but at no stage did I feel like Rubackyté was wrecking the character of the music, for example by taking off at breakneck speed (or dragging, though she doesn't tend towards notably slow speeds anyway). A few of the 'big' fugues (B minor, F sharp minor, the opening section of D minor) are played pretty fast but they're not played so aggressively that it doesn't work.

Real disappointments are rare. I didn't much like the E flat prelude or fugue, and the G sharp minor fugue seemed pretty safe. That was about it. There was a lot more to like than that.

Downsides? I guess there isn't often the degree of drama you get from some others (though she sure does go for it in the D minor finale), possibly because the recording doesn't have quite the immediate presence of some. It's not a bad recording, just decent rather than outstanding. And just occasionally her sense of rhythm is a tiny bit lumpy - over and above what I sense are her inclinations to give the music a Romantic touch. Certainly she's not a full anti-Romantic, but nor is she slathering on Romanticism in places it doesn't seem appropriate.

I reckon this is a pretty solid option, one that will properly convey the music to anyone who decides that Brilliant Classics is the right price range for them. You could almost certainly do worse.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: milk on July 05, 2021, 10:37:13 PM
Next one I listened to...

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91wcie+sFtL._SS500_.jpg)

I quite like this, really. First and foremost, there wasn't a single piece where I thought the tempo choice or other core aspects of the performance was weird. Sure, there are cases where it's not how I would envisage the piece, but at no stage did I feel like Rubackyté was wrecking the character of the music, for example by taking off at breakneck speed (or dragging, though she doesn't tend towards notably slow speeds anyway). A few of the 'big' fugues (B minor, F sharp minor, the opening section of D minor) are played pretty fast but they're not played so aggressively that it doesn't work.

Real disappointments are rare. I didn't much like the E flat prelude or fugue, and the G sharp minor fugue seemed pretty safe. That was about it. There was a lot more to like than that.

Downsides? I guess there isn't often the degree of drama you get from some others (though she sure does go for it in the D minor finale), possibly because the recording doesn't have quite the immediate presence of some. It's not a bad recording, just decent rather than outstanding. And just occasionally her sense of rhythm is a tiny bit lumpy - over and above what I sense are her inclinations to give the music a Romantic touch. Certainly she's not a full anti-Romantic, but nor is she slathering on Romanticism in places it doesn't seem appropriate.

I reckon this is a pretty solid option, one that will properly convey the music to anyone who decides that Brilliant Classics is the right price range for them. You could almost certainly do worse.
nice! I just happened to be testing this. She’s interesting. And dramatic sometimes. A little jagged.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 05, 2021, 11:09:23 PM
I've stumbled across what seems to be a pretty comprehensive list of the full versions of op.87 (in a review of Sheppard's version). It lists 17 versions (4 from Nikolayeva including a DVD in 1992).

https://dschjournal.com/cd-reviews-46#opus087

I don't trust all the dates that it gives, they are release dates rather than recording dates, and some of them appear to be of re-releases rather than the original.

EDIT: It's missing an 18th and 19th version, Kori Bond and Peter Donohoe. Plus there's Olli Mustonen if you can bother piecing it together across 2 albums interspersed with Bach.

SECOND EDIT: I've just worked out that between my 2 streaming services, I can listen to every single one of the 18 audio versions (well, for Nikolayeva on Hyperion that's because I have the CDs, Hyperion doesn't do streaming). The couple I couldn't find on Primephonic were hiding on Deezer (where the metadata is a lot more random). Yay!

Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on July 06, 2021, 03:44:42 AM
Next one I listened to...

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91wcie+sFtL._SS500_.jpg)

I quite like this, really. First and foremost, there wasn't a single piece where I thought the tempo choice or other core aspects of the performance was weird. Sure, there are cases where it's not how I would envisage the piece, but at no stage did I feel like Rubackyté was wrecking the character of the music, for example by taking off at breakneck speed (or dragging, though she doesn't tend towards notably slow speeds anyway). A few of the 'big' fugues (B minor, F sharp minor, the opening section of D minor) are played pretty fast but they're not played so aggressively that it doesn't work.

Real disappointments are rare. I didn't much like the E flat prelude or fugue, and the G sharp minor fugue seemed pretty safe. That was about it. There was a lot more to like than that.

Downsides? I guess there isn't often the degree of drama you get from some others (though she sure does go for it in the D minor finale), possibly because the recording doesn't have quite the immediate presence of some. It's not a bad recording, just decent rather than outstanding. And just occasionally her sense of rhythm is a tiny bit lumpy - over and above what I sense are her inclinations to give the music a Romantic touch. Certainly she's not a full anti-Romantic, but nor is she slathering on Romanticism in places it doesn't seem appropriate.

I reckon this is a pretty solid option, one that will properly convey the music to anyone who decides that Brilliant Classics is the right price range for them. You could almost certainly do worse.

I've listened to a few tracks, don't have much to say, I'm a bit off-put by her preference for quickish tempi in the big fugues.  On the other hand I think the piano sound is rather good, very natural, perhaps to a fault of seeming a bit bland.  (I never really know whether I'm hearing the piano or the recording, when judging these things - it's either a moderate piano very well recorded, or a very good piano moderately recorded.)  I do like the cover art though!

Just looking at Petrushansky’s timings is enough to scare me, frankly. S   L   O   W.

I do like  s l o w  so I gave him a spin.  His total duration is 20 minutes longer than Nikolayeva.  Looking forward to this ...

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51rshcQU8kL._SS500_.jpg)
Shostakovich Op.87, Boris Petrushansky

Very disappointing.  Occasionally things come off but more often they don't.  At least in the tracks I've sampled.  The Prelude 8 in f sharp minor for example is a disaster - slow, hesitant, sounds like he's sight-reading it for the first time.  The subsequent big Fugue - more than a minute slower than Nikolayeva - is flat as a pancake.  The Fugue 6 in b minor - again nearly a minute slower than Nik - starts OK but decelerates and judders to a painful end like a ham actor in his death scene - "I die! I ... die! See how ... I ... ... die!"  The Fugue 16 in b flat minor takes over 10 minutes and simply fails to hang together.  The Passacaglia (Prelude 12) is soporific.  Sad face  :(

And the piano sound is - similar to Rubackyté, but a bit lacking in body by comparison, and certainly not as good as Nik or Lim or Jarrett.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on July 06, 2021, 04:11:12 AM
https://dschjournal.com/cd-reviews-46#opus087

I don't trust all the dates that it gives, they are release dates rather than recording dates, and some of them appear to be of re-releases rather than the original.
EDIT: It's missing an 18th and 19th version, Kori Bond and Peter Donohoe. Plus there's Olli Mustonen if you can bother piecing it together across 2 albums interspersed with Bach.

It does mention Kori Bond "romanticised vision" and it dates Keith Jarrett as 2007 but my CDs have 1992 printed on them.  (Jarrett's take a bit lightweight in this music, I feel.)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 06, 2021, 04:13:48 AM
I think the complete list, with recording dates from the information I can get (most are definite a few are secondhand info), is as follows:

1.   Nikolayeva 1962
2.   Woodward 1975
3.   Nikolayeva 1987
4.   Papadopoulous 1989/90
5.   Nikolayeva 1990
6.   Jarrett 1991
7.   Weichert 1991/2
8.   Petrushansky 1992
9.   Nikolayeva 1992 (DVD)
10.   Ashkenazy 1996-98
11.   Scherbakov 1999
12.   Bond 2004/6
13.   Rubackyte 2006
14.   Stone 2007
15.   Jalbert 2007
16.   Lin 2008
17.    Melnikov 2008/9
18.   Donohoe 2014
19.   Sheppard 2015 (live)

20.   Levit (2021...)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Jo498 on July 06, 2021, 04:58:22 AM
Mustonen 1998 BMG/RCA and 2003 Ondine, combined with Bach WTC 1.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 06, 2021, 06:15:14 AM
Mustonen 1998 BMG/RCA and 2003 Ondine, combined with Bach WTC 1.

Yes. Explicitly deciding not to count that mess.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 06, 2021, 09:24:44 AM
I've listened to a few tracks, don't have much to say, I'm a bit off-put by her preference for quickish tempi in the big fugues.  On the other hand I think the piano sound is rather good, very natural, perhaps to a fault of seeming a bit bland.  (I never really know whether I'm hearing the piano or the recording, when judging these things - it's either a moderate piano very well recorded, or a very good piano moderately recorded.)  I do like the cover art though!

I do like  s l o w  so I gave him a spin.  His total duration is 20 minutes longer than Nikolayeva.  Looking forward to this ...

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51rshcQU8kL._SS500_.jpg)
Shostakovich Op.87, Boris Petrushansky

Very disappointing.  Occasionally things come off but more often they don't.  At least in the tracks I've sampled.  The Prelude 8 in f sharp minor for example is a disaster - slow, hesitant, sounds like he's sight-reading it for the first time.  The subsequent big Fugue - more than a minute slower than Nikolayeva - is flat as a pancake.  The Fugue 6 in b minor - again nearly a minute slower than Nik - starts OK but decelerates and judders to a painful end like a ham actor in his death scene - "I die! I ... die! See how ... I ... ... die!"  The Fugue 16 in b flat minor takes over 10 minutes and simply fails to hang together.  The Passacaglia (Prelude 12) is soporific.  Sad face  :(

And the piano sound is - similar to Rubackyté, but a bit lacking in body by comparison, and certainly not as good as Nik or Lim or Jarrett.

Interesting.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 06, 2021, 09:26:12 AM
Yes. Explicitly deciding not to count that mess.

I can see not wanting to unpack it ....
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias on July 06, 2021, 10:18:48 AM
Just looking at Petrushansky’s timings is enough to scare me, frankly. S   L   O   W.

Yes indeed this might be an opposite reaction forming from years of listening to Scherbakov  ;D Serious answer though I had not done any comparisons with anyone as far as tempo goes. I just did some comparisons against Melnikov and Melnikov is definitely more balanced. In isolation what I didn't mind about Petrushansky is it's the slower pieces that he really slows down, he doesn't drag down the faster ones as well. Some of his timings in slower pieces are near identical to Melnikov like Fugue No. 8

I listened to Levit in the C major prelude, I agree with you, this is very good and I'm now more eager to hear this than when I saw the announcement. Strangely this is the most resonant recording I've heard from him. This must be a stylistic choice for people. 

On Muza Rubackyte there are a bunch of high frequency digital clicks throughout it that caused me to scratch it off my list.

I will have to revisit Jenny Lin, I seem to recall liking it but thought it was maybe a bit detached sounding? Relying on really old memory here.

Edit: I remembered wrong about Melnikov, the recording quality is a lot more tolerable than I had thought.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on July 06, 2021, 01:54:05 PM
Mustonen 1998 BMG/RCA and 2003 Ondine, combined with Bach WTC 1.

I was listening to that Ondine this afternoon (just cherrypicking the Shostakovich bits from vol.2) and the piano sound is probably THE best of any of the versions I've dipped into in the last few days.  Mustonen is generally on the (very) fast side, but despite that I was convinced.
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71vaaPdH0zL._SS500_.jpg)

I also dipped into Caroline Weichert, attracted by the description "seductively atmospheric conception" which turned out to be rather wide of the mark, I thought.
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61qFEFyRkTL._SS500_.jpg)
Shostakovich, The Solo Piano Works, Caroline Weichert

In fact this turns out to be the most straight-ahead, unaffected version I have ever heard, strict tempo with very little rubato or pauses of any sort, generally on the quick side of average - almost taking us back to a world of early HIP Bach performance.   The contrast between this immaculate clockwork Prelude 8 and the one served up by Petrushansky could not be more marked - and the subsequent big Fugue is driven along with metronomic purpose.  Of its type, I liked this a lot, though I was expecting something quite different and more affected.
The sound is pretty good too and I'll be listening to some of the other piano music from this set.  Today was definitely not a wasted day.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 06, 2021, 02:02:16 PM
I was listening to that Ondine this afternoon (just cherrypicking the Shostakovich bits from vol.2) and the piano sound is probably THE best of any of the versions I've dipped into in the last few days.  Mustonen is generally on the (very) fast side, but despite that I was convinced.
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71vaaPdH0zL._SS500_.jpg)

I also dipped into Caroline Weichert, attracted by the description "seductively atmospheric conception" which turned out to be rather wide of the mark, I thoiught.

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61qFEFyRkTL._SS500_.jpg)
Shostakovich, The Solo Piano Works, Caroline Weichert

In fact this turns out to be the most straight-ahead, unaffected version I have ever heard, strict tempo with very little rubato or pauses of any sort, generally on the quick side of average - almost taking us back to a world of early HIP Bach performance.   The contrast between this immaculate clockwork Prelude 8 and the one served up by Petrushansky could not be more marked.  Of its type, I liked this a lot, though I was expecting something quite different and more affected.
The sound is pretty good too and I'll be listening to some of the other piano music from this set.  Today was definitely not a wasted day.

Thanks for reminding me torevisit Mustonen.  It's a while since I listened to those two volumes, but I remember really enjoying them.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on July 06, 2021, 02:08:11 PM
I could only find a 'Volume 2' (so an assorted 12 of the Prelude & Fugue pairs) - I couldn't see a link or a stream for Volume 1 anywhere.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 06, 2021, 02:16:02 PM
I could only find a 'Volume 2' (so an assorted 12 of the Prelude & Fugue pairs) - I couldn't see a link or a stream for Volume 1 anywhere.

A friend gave me that as a gift some time ago.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias on July 06, 2021, 02:16:14 PM
Listening to Olli Part 2 now, the recordings of Op. 87 are quite resonant. These are too mannered for me, the strangest for me is the way he modulates the dynamics, seemingly randomly.

People should check out Bach's Prelude 10, this is the weirdest I have ever heard this piece and I collect WTCs from pre-war pianists.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 06, 2021, 02:20:41 PM
Listening to Olli Part 2 now, the recordings of Op. 87 are quite resonant. These are too mannered for me, the strangest for me is the way he modulates the dynamics, seemingly randomly.

I know he's not everybody's money, to be sure.  A bit like Lennie's Leningrad with Chicago: I wouldn't suggest that anyone take it for a model; but I find I really enjoy it ....
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias on July 06, 2021, 02:26:14 PM
I know he's not everybody's money, to be sure.  A bit like Lennie's Leningrad with Chicago: I wouldn't suggest that anyone take it for a model; but I find I really enjoy it ....

There are people that don't like that Leningrad ??? What are these boomers that don't like anything other than Mozart's farfing music played at below conversational levels? ;D
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 06, 2021, 03:43:45 PM
I could only find a 'Volume 2' (so an assorted 12 of the Prelude & Fugue pairs) - I couldn't see a link or a stream for Volume 1 anywhere.

They were on 2 different record labels so there’s no guarantee you will find both in the same place. You might find volume 1 as part of “The RCA Recordings”.

The whole approach greatly offends the notion of op.87 as a single coherent work. Bach might have gathered his preludes and fugues from things he had composed across his career, but Shostakovich wrote his in 4 months with barely any interruption.

I can cope with people performing a selection given the sheer size of the work, but what Mustonen did suggests he just doesn’t understand it. Or his record companies didn’t.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: milk on July 06, 2021, 03:57:25 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71Rpvq%2B5kgL._SX466_.jpg) Another one I’m enjoying.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 07, 2021, 03:13:23 AM
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/712cOdCDpcL._SS500_.jpg) (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81MV1TyoZ+L._SS500_.jpg)

Papadopoulous is now one of the more obscure recordings, but it appears it was actually just the 2nd Western one, recorded in 1989/90. It was released around the same time as Nikolayeva’s Hyperion version (which was recorded just a fraction later), and judging by the Gramophone review I found of them both, suffered in comparison. Which was inevitable I think as a matter of perception no matter the quality; how can you directly compete with a Nikolayeva recording of this work?

Unfortunately I think Papadopoulos’ performance isn’t a lost treasure. It tends to be a bit pedestrian... and when it’s not pedestrian it’s sometimes kind of annoying. He’s one of the pianists who falls for what is often considered a misprinted metronome marking in the C major fugue, which on its own wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s not the only case of slow dragging tempi. There’s basically no speed change in the E minor fugue, and no sense of flow in the C sharp minor one. The D major prelude arpeggios sound messy and the B minor prelude is tedious banging. And then, just to change things up, the D flat major prelude is absurdly fast (no way in hell is that Allegretto, mister!).

It’s not all bad. The F minor fugue is rather nice. So is the C minor one (though the prelude is turgid). The B flat minor fugue is at least interesting, if a little weird, in that he abandons a steady tempo (in a piece that has almost no sense of tempo anyway) to really play around with the ornaments. But there aren’t that many moments that made me sit up and take notice in a good way. For every competent movement there’s likely to be a somewhat clunky one nearby.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias on July 07, 2021, 06:29:44 AM
Timings aside does anyone hear a difference in technique in Nikolayeva's Hyperion recording compared to the Melodiya? Maybe I was overly hyper focused on this in the past, hearing some of her live recordings from the late 80s and early 90s just didn't leave me impressed and wondering if this did effect her studio recordings as well, things like slowing down in segments that specifically required repositioning her hands, etc. I don't think I heard any anomalies in editing that stood out, but I'd expect Hyperion to have no issue with that with these being digital recordings.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 08, 2021, 01:47:06 AM
I just started listening to Jarrett's version. The liner notes proudly announce that he follows the metronome marking in the printed score for the C major fugue. You couldn't get a better demonstration that the metronome marking is a misprint, using a crotchet when it should be a minim.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 08, 2021, 02:41:43 AM
So, more extended thoughts on Jarrett, from listening to Volume 1 (P&Fs 1 to 12).

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61CgaOhNjfL._SX425_.jpg)

Hmm. The profound, erroneous slowness of the C major fugue aside, Jarrett tends towards fast (the only faster version overall is Woodward). I hesitated in disliking this because I realised at some point that he's often not that much different in speed to Lin. And I like Lin.

But I do think that sometimes Lin is a bit glib in some weightier pieces. What she has to make up for it fantastic rhythmic snappiness (aided by great recorded sound) that gives everything a lift and keeps the ear interested. Whereas I realised that I was finding listening to Jarrett quite tiring - I don't think that's a function of the time of night or what sort of day I had, I really do think it's caused by going from one piece to the next and there not being much let-up or contrast.

To take one really strong example, the F sharp minor prelude and fugue is really very fast (and I think Lin's fugue is fast and glib), and when I got to the following E major prelude it felt like more of the same. I wanted a rest. I couldn't get one. Ironically the only rest came at C major when I didn't yet need one.

Jarrett's technical skills are fully on display. He can do a torrent of semiquavers, such as in the B major fugue, and it's still clear. The G sharp minor fugue, where Lin backs off and gets shy, is actually excellent in its relentless drive. On one level I have to say this is pretty good playing a lot of the time, and listening to a single prelude & fugue I might well think it's at least an interesting take. But the cumulative effect of all that drive left me feeling wrung out.

I'll add to this if my thoughts from Volume 2 (P&Fs 13-24) are especially different or otherwise notable. I need a break and a cup of tea first...

EDIT: So far much the same. Prelude 16 didn't feel like a moment of repose after fugue 15, etc. It just kind of keeps going. A lot of it is played quite well but there isn't enough room for breath and little sense of contrast.  I did quite like the C minor prelude and fugue.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on July 08, 2021, 05:15:27 AM
By complete coincidence I've been listsning to a bit of Jarrett today as well - for the first time in probably 25 years, so much did I prefer Nikolayeva (Hyperion) when I first bought the Jarrett and was disappointed.

Having, in the last few days listened to small selections** from: Rubackyté, Papadopoulos, Woodward, Melnikov, DSCH himself, Richter, Nikolayeva (Melodiya) - and much more extended listening sessions with: Petrushansky, Weichert, Donohoe - after all these, my reaction to Jarrett is ... very positive (only listened to a small selection** though).  I shall have to move him back out of my metaphorical oubliette into my main listening collection.  I was interested to hear that the piano sound was much more recessed than I expected - ECM of course have nothing to learn when it comes to recording Keith Jarrett playing a grand piano, but most of his many live solo jazz concerts are recorded a bit closer than this.

Of all those mentioned above, the other 'new to me' version that got a really positive response was Weichert.  I said before that she was very straight-ahead, and its true but on repeated listening she's not completely inflexible, just the bending is, well, subtle.  'Understated' might be a good word for Weichert.  (Donohoe by contrast, the opposite - similar tempo choices but a bit heavy-fisted.  A knockout Fugue 15 though.)  Weichert is very inexpensive from Amazon (for a 4 CD download package, includes the Sonatas and the Op.34 Preludes) but it's a good recording so I think - though I don't really need another Op.87 - I'm ready to shell out the extra to get lossless files from Presto.


** taking the Preludes and Fugues as separate items, my 'small selection' would be about 8 such.  An 'extended listen' would be 20 or more, out of the total of 48.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 08, 2021, 05:51:08 AM
Interesting re Weichert as she happens to be next in the randomly shuffled list I’m working from.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on July 14, 2021, 08:59:26 AM
Some gemeral observations, drawn from listening to a strickly limited subset of Op.87 as detailed below, and the following pianists so far:
Nikolayeva/Hyperion, Nikolayeva/Melodiya, Lin, Weichert, Jarrett, Petrushansky, Donohoe and to a slightly lesser extent, Melnikov, Rubackyté and Woodward
I hope to add some of the obvious missing names (Papadopoulos, then Bond, arec next in line) to my own notes in due course.

The pieces auditioned - 1 quick Prelude, 2 dramatic extended Preludes, 2 long slow Fugues, 1 fast and complex Fugue:
In each case the quote is lifted from the Hyperion booklet.  And in brackets after, is the tl:dr of my preferred versions:

Prelude 8 in f sharp minor (Allegretto 2/4) - "busy semiquavers over an ostinato-like two-note figure"  (favs: Weichert, Donohoe, Rubackyté)
Fugue 8 in f sharp minor (Andante 3/4) - "a splendid piece of sustained intensity and feeling" (favs: Melnikov, Donohoe)
Prelude 12 in g sharp minor (Andante 3/4) - "a superb Passacaglia" (favs: Lin, + 4 others)
Fugue 13 in F sharp major (Adagio 2/4) - "shows this composer at his most personal, deep in contemplative thought"   (fav: Nikolayeva/Melodiya)
Prelude 14 in e flat minor (Adagio 7/4) - "somberly Mussorgskian" (favs: Lin, + 2 others)
Fugue 15 in D flat major (Allegro molto) - "fiery, hot-headed and intensely chromatic ... constant changes of time-signature" (favs: Petrushansky, Donohoe)

Timings:
In general there is only so much to be gleaned from looking at track timings - because many of these pieces, and many of these peformers, use a massive rallentando towards the end, which distorts any comparisons of the basic tempo adopted.  I found just listening and thinking "that sounds just right" a better guide.
Total duration - the sweet spot seems to be 2h28, with about 50% of all recordings surveyed falling within 5 seconds minutes of that timing.  The massive outliers are Petrushansky (slow) and Woodward (quick) but I have found plenty to like about both these recordings, even if neither is likely to be a first choice.

Touchstone:
I can't help regarding Nikolayeva as the touchstone in this music, by which everyone else must be judged.  Timings-wise both her recordings here are outliers though, much slower than what seems now to be the norm, and - in the limited subset of six pieces I chose to audition - Nikolayeva/Hyperion didn't really shine at all, her best moment was probably the slow Fugue No.8, one of my very favourite pieces - but even there I found others I preferred.

Piano sound:
As I said earlier, I often have difficulty separating recording quality from piano quality, which is why I use this phrase to cover both.  Best IMO (of the recordings listed above) is Lin, and by a good margin in my book, from Woodward in 2nd place.  The Lin recording is a bit close, for more air Jarrett or Donohoe are possibilities, though the latter sounds a bit compressed to me (read: loud).  Although none of them are less than good, a lower tier for varying reasons is occupied by Melnikov (jangly), Rubackyté (dull), Petrushansky and Nikolayeva/Melodiya (very occasional peak distortion).

Pinch of salt:
Comparing my notes with Madiel's excellent survay of Nikolayeva, Melnikov and Lin - it's not really any surprise to find that our tastes differ, so that on more than one occasion his 'last' is my 'first' and vice versa.  Most notably in the Prelude No.12 where Madiel puts Lin 3rd of 3, she is unequivocally my first choice (of 10) in this dramatic music.  Similarly in the 15th Fugue where Madiel prefers Nikolayeva, I find her (both recordings) all at sea.  Admittedly Lin is not much better but I quite like Melnikov here - but for me, Petrushansky and to a lesser extent, Donohoe (with identical timings incidentally), take this music where it needs to go.

That's as far as I can go for now - from my notes it looks as though the standouts among new-to-me recordings of Op.87 are Weichert and Donohoe.  Of these Donohoe has scored better, but I'm not sure I completely buy into the piano sound on this recording (his instrument is tuned a tiny tad flat compared with most others, which doesn't help).  The Weichert recording sounds more natural to me, if less spectacular.  And sound-wise neither are a patch on Lin who I already have (but in my comparisons, Lin is shown to fall short in the slower music generally - and that is most of it!)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 14, 2021, 11:19:06 AM
Interesting, thanks.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias on July 14, 2021, 12:20:41 PM
Some gemeral observations, drawn from listening to a strickly limited subset of Op.87 as detailed below, and the following pianists so far:
Nikolayeva/Hyperion, Nikolayeva/Melodiya, Lin, Weichert, Jarrett, Petrushansky, Donohoe and to a slightly lesser extent, Melnikov, Rubackyté and Woodward
I hope to add some of the obvious missing names (Papadopoulos, then Bond, arec next in line) to my own notes in due course.

The pieces auditioned - 1 quick Prelude, 2 dramatic extended Preludes, 2 long slow Fugues, 1 fast and complex Fugue:
In each case the quote is lifted from the Hyperion booklet.  And in brackets after, is the tl:dr of my preferred versions:

Prelude 8 in f sharp minor (Allegretto 2/4) - "busy semiquavers over an ostinato-like two-note figure"  (favs: Weichert, Donohoe, Rubackyté)
Fugue 8 in f sharp minor (Andante 3/4) - "a splendid piece of sustained intensity and feeling" (favs: Melnikov, Donohoe)
Prelude 12 in g sharp minor (Andante 3/4) - "a superb Passacaglia" (favs: Lin, + 4 others)
Fugue 13 in F sharp major (Adagio 2/4) - "shows this composer at his most personal, deep in contemplative thought"   (fav: Nikolayeva/Melodiya)
Prelude 14 in e flat minor (Adagio 7/4) - "somberly Mussorgskian" (favs: Lin, + 2 others)
Fugue 15 in D flat major (Allegro molto) - "fiery, hot-headed and intensely chromatic ... constant changes of time-signature" (favs: Petrushansky, Donohoe)

Timings:
In general there is only so much to be gleaned from looking at track timings - because many of these pieces, and many of these peformers, use a massive rallentando towards the end, which distorts any comparisons of the basic tempo adopted.  I found just listening and thinking "that sounds just right" a better guide.
Total duration - the sweet spot seems to be 2h28, with about 50% of all recordings surveyed falling within 5 seconds of that timing.  The massive outliers are Petrushansky (slow) and Woodward (quick) but I have found plenty to like about both these recordings, even if neither is likely to be a first choice.

Touchstone:
I can't help regarding Nikolayeva as the touchstone in this music, by which everyone else must be judged.  Timings-wise both her recordings here are outliers though, much slower than what seems now to be the norm, and - in the limited subset of six pieces I chose to audition - Nikolayeva/Hyperion didn't really shine at all, her best moment was probably the slow Fugue No.8, one of my very favourite pieces - but even there I found others I preferred.

Piano sound:
As I said earlier, I often have difficulty separating recording quality from piano quality, which is why I use this phrase to cover both.  Best IMO (of the recordings listed above) is Lin, and by a good margin in my book, from Woodward in 2nd place.  The Lin recording is a bit close, for more air Jarrett or Donohoe are possibilities, though the latter sounds a bit compressed to me (read: loud).  Although none of them are less than good, a lower tier for varying reasons is occupied by Melnikov (jangly), Rubackyté (dull), Petrushansky and Nikolayeva/Melodiya (very occasional peak distortion).

Pinch of salt:
Comparing my notes with Madiel's excellent survay of Nikolayeva, Melnikov and Lin - it's not really any surprise to find that our tastes differ, so that on more than one occasion his 'last' is my 'first' and vice versa.  Most notably in the Prelude No.12 where Madiel puts Lin 3rd of 3, she is unequivocally my first choice (of 10) in this dramatic music.  Similarly in the 15th Fugue where Madiel prefers Nikolayeva, I find her (both recordings) all at sea.  Admittedly Lin is not much better but I quite like Melnikov here - but for me, Petrushansky and to a lesser extent, Donohoe (with identical timings incidentally), take this music where it needs to go.

That's as far as I can go for mow - from my notes it looks as though the standouts among new-to-me recordings of Op.87 are Weichert and Donohoe.  Of these Donohoe has scored better, but I'm not sure I completely buy into the piano sound on this recording (his instrument is tuned a tiny tad flat compared with most others, which doesn't help).  The Weichert recording sounds more natural to me, if less spectacular.  And sound-wise neither are a patch on Lin who I already have (but in my comparisons, Lin is shown to fall short in the slower music generally - and that is most of it!)

What your post is rightly highlighting is that I don't think I've found a completely "flawless" op. 87 from start to finish. To me I find this interesting given it's compositionally not to dissimilar to WTC but the WTC has so many fantastically consistent recordings through both books.

I went back to Melnikov and I have to pedal back on my complaining about this recording being overly resonant.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 14, 2021, 03:11:45 PM
Interesting, thank you.

I would note that I’m much more likely to look at a prelude and fugue pair in my comments, even if I talk about each separately. Sometimes it’s the juxtaposition of the 2 that’s important.

For instance in no.12 it’s Lin’s fugue that’s the big disappointment to me, not her prelude.

And I think it’s pretty clear in no.15 that my comments were not about the fugue.  You say you like Melnikov. Well so do I if we’re just talking about the fugue if you read what I said.

So in both of the specific examples you decided to pick out, your description of what I said is rather at odds with what I actually said.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: amw on July 14, 2021, 03:30:09 PM
Given that all the fugues are played attacca after the preludes, meaning that each prelude + fugue is a continuous and relatively self-contained unit, I think significant musical meaning is lost if one examines a particular prelude or fugue in isolation, comparable to evaluating only the first half of a sonata movement, for example.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Mirror Image on July 14, 2021, 04:10:39 PM
Given that all the fugues are played attacca after the preludes, meaning that each prelude + fugue is a continuous and relatively self-contained unit, I think significant musical meaning is lost if one examines a particular prelude or fugue in isolation, comparable to evaluating only the first half of a sonata movement, for example.

A good point.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on July 14, 2021, 11:47:20 PM
Interesting, thank you.

I would note that I’m much more likely to look at a prelude and fugue pair in my comments, even if I talk about each separately. Sometimes it’s the juxtaposition of the 2 that’s important.

For instance in no.12 it’s Lin’s fugue that’s the big disappointment to me, not her prelude.

And I think it’s pretty clear in no.15 that my comments were not about the fugue.  You say you like Melnikov. Well so do I if we’re just talking about the fugue if you read what I said.

So in both of the specific examples you decided to pick out, your description of what I said is rather at odds with what I actually said.

Yes I take the point (and amw below) about listening to the Preludes and Fugues as pairs - but in point of fact that's not what I do, when listening for pleasure.  On most recordings they are tracked separately** and I take advantage of that.  And on another day I'd likely have different preferences, so please take my remarks with a "pinch of salt".

Given that all the fugues are played attacca after the preludes, meaning that each prelude + fugue is a continuous and relatively self-contained unit, I think significant musical meaning is lost if one examines a particular prelude or fugue in isolation, comparable to evaluating only the first half of a sonata movement, for example.

Only in the case of the Fugues surely - you can't attach musical meaning to the Prelude, from a Fugue that is as yet unheard.  To take your sonata example - the 1st 4 notes of Beethoven's 5th Symphony are a statement that must be taken at face value, on its own terms - without any reference to what is to follow, which at that point in time s purely hypothetical.
(You can, maybe, assign importance to the key relationships between adjacent P&F pairs, which I also haven't done.)


** that might be a significant point of difference in the recordings worth mentioning.  Jarrett, Woodward and Nik/Melodiya for example, do not track the Preludes and Fugues separately.  Most others that I have encountered so far, do.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 15, 2021, 01:21:46 AM
Yes I take the point (and amw below) about listening to the Preludes and Fugues as pairs - but in point of fact that's not what I do, when listening for pleasure.  On most recordings they are tracked separately** and I take advantage of that.  And on another day I'd likely have different preferences, so please take my remarks with a "pinch of salt".

Your listening preferences are your own. The far bigger point, which you seem not to have taken, is that you misrepresented my views in the 2 cases where you decided to say "Madiel and I have different opinions".
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 15, 2021, 03:56:56 AM
I've been listening to Caroline Weichert's version tonight. Bottom line, I think it's really rather good, probably the best of the half dozen I've tried recently.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61V4ypj94hL._SL1400_.jpg)

Weichert's reading is not big and boldly dramatic. What it is, though, is unfailingly musical. There are some cases where she takes a tempo that wouldn't be my choice, but then she almost always makes sense of it. For example, the start of the E minor fugue is rather fast but then when she hits the acceleration she does accelerate and gives the sense of drive and momentum that's needed. Similarly the G sharp minor prelude is faster than I'd like but she gives the fugue the drive it needs to still be a contrast. A slow and dreamy D major prelude is nicely offset by a very perky fugue. The music always has shape.

I think the A flat p&f was about the only place where I really wanted her to pick up the pace somewhere, but even then it was quite pleasant. I found the E flat major prelude uncomfortably fast though... and that would basically be the weakest spot in the entire 2.5 hours.

And there's lots of tone colour as well. Lots. That E minor prelude and fugue works in part because she uses really muted tones, a nice offset to the bolder G major piece before it. The B minor prelude is heavy without being thumping. The B flat minor prelude and fugue is wonderfully elegant. She makes several preludes in particular rather song-like.

The recording is slightly recessed, and Weichert never quite lets fly to the degree that some pianists do (though the E flat minor prelude for example sounds sufficiently intense), but within the range she's using there's a really nice palette. And she really seems to understand when to play for contrast between one movement and the next, and when to play for continuity or linkages (there are plenty of cases where Shostakovich creates a link from one p&f to the next).

There are a few cases where she doesn't play the notes I was expecting. Whether that's her or a different edition of the music, I'm unsure (I think in some cases I might have heard another pianist do the same thing). It wasn't a super big deal though.

Some similarities perhaps to Rubackyté, but I generally found myself responding to Weichert with a greater degree of enthusiasm. I might have to compare Weichert head-to-head with Melnikov at some point.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on July 16, 2021, 12:50:17 AM
Your listening preferences are your own. The far bigger point, which you seem not to have taken, is that you misrepresented my views in the 2 cases where you decided to say "Madiel and I have different opinions".

If I did so, it wasn't wilful.  Of the 12th Prelude specifically you wrote:
"Nikolayeva is good. She gives the prelude a lot of gravity ... Melnikov is perhaps even better. His prelude has intensity ... Against this competition, Lin’s prelude is decent ..."
and so I summarised that as:
"Madiel puts Lin 3rd of 3".

Anyhoo - I auditioned a bit of Papadopoulos yesterday, then a bit of Bond.

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81MV1TyoZ+L._SS500_.jpg)

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/817euYHqDRL._SS500_.jpg)

Papadopoulos, well I found the piano sound wanting - the instrument simply doesn't sound like a concert grand - and after listening to 3 tracks (P&F Eight, and P 12) I decided there wasn't enough in the performance to compensate for that disadvantage.   Putting him rather in the same general category as Rubackyté for me - given the strong competition, no further listening required.

Kori Bond - hmm, not much of a discography - makes this look like a bit of a vanity project.  But I was and am blown away by her 'romantic' take on this music.  The first track I listened to (Prelude Eight) has the same duration as Weichert and both are slightly slower than Nikolayeva.  In this music, which I have always seen as a perky little number, Nikolayeva seems too slow, but there is a sense of irony there, giving meaning to the slowness.  Weichert is just deliberate and metronomic - I like this but would like it more if she were a bit quicker.  Bond seems to imbue the same piece with pathos.  I never heard it like this before - but of course, the sadness is right there in the music, why didn't I hear it before?
The piano sound is good, in the same ball-park as others including Weichert (I use the ending of Fugue No.13 followed by the opening of Prelude 14, to make my initial assessment of piano sound for each recording).

Bond is rather an 'extreme' version of Op.87 and so not an automatic first choice - but I will be buying this one today.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 16, 2021, 12:58:29 AM
If I did so, it wasn't wilful.  Of the 12th Prelude specifically you wrote:
"Nikolayeva is good. She gives the prelude a lot of gravity ... Melnikov is perhaps even better. His prelude has intensity ... Against this competition, Lin’s prelude is decent ..."
and so I summarised that as:
"Madiel puts Lin 3rd of 3".

Oh please just stop. That is not a summary. You are literally doing the exact same thing again, of deciding that because you only listened to the prelude, you can just excise half of every sentence I wrote to leave behind bleeding chunks of ideas. Which is why you can't see that I only mentioned Lin's prelude briefly because it was Lin's fugue that I needed to make a point about while trying to keep my comments short enough to be readable.

I mean, you decided that you could ignore a section of a sentence starting with "but" as not having been a key influence on the meaning of the sentence.

I wasn't trying to rank preludes. I was trying to rank preludes and fugues. Taking "good" and "better" and applying them to something other than what I was talking about is just completely inappropriate.

If you're not capable of reading something that was written about both a prelude and a fugue despite the fact that you only listened to one or the other, and parsing for context, then just don't try.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Mandryka on July 16, 2021, 01:20:43 AM
I've been listening to Caroline Weichert's version tonight. Bottom line, I think it's really rather good, probably the best of the half dozen I've tried recently.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61V4ypj94hL._SL1400_.jpg)

Weichert's reading is not big and boldly dramatic. What it is, though, is unfailingly musical. There are some cases where she takes a tempo that wouldn't be my choice, but then she almost always makes sense of it. For example, the start of the E minor fugue is rather fast but then when she hits the acceleration she does accelerate and gives the sense of drive and momentum that's needed. Similarly the G sharp minor prelude is faster than I'd like but she gives the fugue the drive it needs to still be a contrast. A slow and dreamy D major prelude is nicely offset by a very perky fugue. The music always has shape.

I think the A flat p&f was about the only place where I really wanted her to pick up the pace somewhere, but even then it was quite pleasant. I found the E flat major prelude uncomfortably fast though... and that would basically be the weakest spot in the entire 2.5 hours.

And there's lots of tone colour as well. Lots. That E minor prelude and fugue works in part because she uses really muted tones, a nice offset to the bolder G major piece before it. The B minor prelude is heavy without being thumping. The B flat minor prelude and fugue is wonderfully elegant. She makes several preludes in particular rather song-like.

The recording is slightly recessed, and Weichert never quite lets fly to the degree that some pianists do (though the E flat minor prelude for example sounds sufficiently intense), but within the range she's using there's a really nice palette. And she really seems to understand when to play for contrast between one movement and the next, and when to play for continuity or linkages (there are plenty of cases where Shostakovich creates a link from one p&f to the next).

There are a few cases where she doesn't play the notes I was expecting. Whether that's her or a different edition of the music, I'm unsure (I think in some cases I might have heard another pianist do the same thing). It wasn't a super big deal though.

Some similarities perhaps to Rubackyté, but I generally found myself responding to Weichert with a greater degree of enthusiasm. I might have to compare Weichert head-to-head with Melnikov at some point.

I can see exactly why you say this, though my attention has been less on these than on op 34. She's good!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 16, 2021, 03:49:14 AM
I can see exactly why you say this, though my attention has been less on these than on op 34. She's good!

I suspect getting the physical CD set, though, is almost impossible.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 17, 2021, 04:00:13 AM
Next one on my list to listen to was Ashkenazy, who I might possibly have heard before but I'm not completely certain (maybe it was just some sampling).

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71axazGlA0L._SX450_.jpg)

My very first impression was a surprising one, in that I felt the recording wasn't that great. But I subsequently think that maybe it was just that Ashkenazy uses quite muted tones for the C major prelude and fugue, and the A minor prelude, which is fair enough.

And once I adjusted for that my initial impressions were pretty favourable. To me the first 4 preludes and fugues are a real test of whether a pianist is going to give each p&f its own character, and Ashkenazy does (including those initial muted tones). The G major is one place where being a bit heavy-sounding is not a flaw, it's an appropriate expression of the pesante marking. The E minor prelude is one of the slower readings, but not excessively so and that's far better than being fast and glib in this sombre music, and the fugue is well judged  - the gear change is very slight in terms of tempo but Ashkenazy gives a sense of ever-growing intensity that's very nice. Similar comments could be made about the other p&f with a double fugue, the concluding D minor.

And in lots of places, while I wouldn't say that Ashkenazy's reading is a terribly 'Romantic' one, he does give character. The E major prelude is fantastically moody. I think he also manages to give unusually convincing cases for many of his faster tempos: the B minor p&f has military echoes, the B major p&f has a real scherzo feel and a mood akin to the 9th symphony (and sets up a fastish G sharp minor prelude surprisingly well), the B flat minor prelude works at speed because it still has delicacy and room to breathe.

He even manages to kind of convince me of a pretty darn fast F sharp major, though I don't think the fugue really qualifies as Adagio and it diminishes the contrast with the next piece... The 2nd half in general seems slightly weaker because of a few places where there's less contrast than is ideal. The E flat p&f really seems excessively fast.

So I don't love everything. But then that's true of every recording thus far. There's a heck of a lot to like here, though, and I'd rate this as one of the better choices. Amongst the slightly faster overall readings I think this and Lin are the best ones I've heard to date (quite different from each other though).
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 17, 2021, 05:15:15 AM
Nice!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Brian on July 17, 2021, 05:18:30 AM
Just my $0.02 as a very casual listener, I got the 60 CD Ashkenazy box that is "artist choice" of his personal favorite solo/chamber recordings, and from like 1975-1995 Decca did frequently record him in really shabby sound. Muted, or colorless, or harsh early digital. The worst offender is a Prokofiev twin bill of R&J and Cinderella piano versions. Shocking mistreatment by a major label (and no remastering either).

But I did enjoy the DSCH set so feel glad to be vindicated there!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: DavidW on July 18, 2021, 05:42:18 AM
as a very casual listener, I got the 60 CD

If that's casual I'll be afraid when you use the phrase "hardcore"! :laugh:
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 18, 2021, 07:15:31 AM
If that's casual I'll be afraid when you use the phrase "hardcore"! :laugh:

(* chortle *)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 26, 2021, 03:31:36 AM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61DDAaXCxxL._SX425_.jpg)

The first recording of op.87 by some margin was of course Nikolayeva. This is my first time listening to it.

There’s no question the recording quality is poor relative to modern renditions. The sound is constricted. It is at least listenable, but there are times when things get pretty muddy (the G major fugue or G sharp minor fugue for example, and other fast and loud climaxes). There are also technical deficiencies in some spots that suggest Nikolayeva didn’t record things lots of times over the way one might in a modern recording studio.

I knew this was faster than Nikolayeva’s later recordings. What’s striking is that in some instances she’s faster than most people. This seems to happen in fugues in particular – The C major, A minor, D major, A major and E major are all noticeably zippy (a couple of them a little uncomfortably so). Nikolayeva’s general conception of the pieces is not fundamentally different from the Hyperion version, though. Her slow readings still tend to be slow, but in some of them there’s less drag. For example the B minor fugue’s muffled tread is cut down by a full minute, and the F sharp minor has plenty of angst but just touch a more momentum.

But in the second half drag is present in greater quantities. The F sharp major prelude is surprisingly staid and sets up a fugue where time stops more than I think it should, even if it’s a little faster than on Hyperion. The B flat minor fugue is a fraction slower than on Hyperion (in both recordings she basically takes 2 minutes longer than anyone else I’ve heard) and the fluttering figures and runs are instead individual notes. The F minor prelude is laboured (though the fugue is very rapid... perhaps too much so) and the C minor fugue ends up being a bit tedious again. The G minor prelude and fugue is slightly faster than on Hyperion, but after listening to other performances there's a distinct lack of flow.

So, worth listening to because of its historical importance. But I don't think I'd really recommend it. It ends up falling down in the 2nd half in much the same places as the Hyperion version does, and in lower quality sound.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on July 30, 2021, 04:13:53 AM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Ge0EYw-3L._SX425_.jpg)

I’ve seen Kori Bond’s performance described as “romanticised”, and that’s definitely the direction it heads if you equate that word with a kind of constant soft focus. It works in some of the music, but the limitations also become apparent quite quickly. A somewhat dreamy C major prelude and fugue is not unusual. An A minor prelude that is a hazy wash of sounds rather than the precise rapid semiquavers of some pianists... okay that can kind of work.

But then the A minor fugue has no real spikiness, and it’s with the G major piece that it becomes really clear that there’s going to be a problem with forceful music. The G major prelude seems way too polite for pesante, especially when the tempo breaks down in some moments. And the fugue doesn’t erupt exuberantly upwards the way many performances do, nor is there any exuberance to the E major or B major fugues. She sounds positively scared of the B minor prelude’s melodrama, and the G sharp minor fugue is simply pedestrian.

So maybe she can plumb the emotional depths of a piece like the E minor, or the F sharp minor fugue? Well... no. It’s all rather “nice”. And that’s a bit of a problem. Some of the preludes and fugues can work with “nice”, but not all that many, and even with some of those the dreamy soft focus is a negative. The A major is okay with this treatment, and the sad lyricism of the C sharp minor fugue works pretty well, but the D major doesn’t sound remotely bright and sunny.
 
There’s no acid here, no fire. It’s Shostakovich made for rounded corners and slightly padded walls, and I don’t think many people really want him that way.
-----
That dashed line is there for a reason. Bond’s cycle was recorded in 2 separate parts, one in September 2004 and one in June 2006.

I can’t help wondering whether she recorded Book 1 (numbers 1-12) and Book 2 (numbers 13-24) entirely separately in those different sessions. Because once I crossed into Book 2 there seemed far less of a soft focus. Indeed, the F sharp major fugue is actually a bit harder-edged than many pianists. The E flat minor prelude and fugue has a decent amount of intensity and drive. The final D minor has direction.

It’s not a total transformation; the D flat doesn’t have the energy of the best versions, and the A flat is meek in tone rather than sparkling. There’s nothing that I’d strongly recommend. But there did seem to be a lot more of the second half that met my general expectations for the music.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on September 05, 2021, 11:45:49 PM
Currently listening to Petrushansky. I may be some time...

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/417D0696RQL.jpg)

Because frequently it's just bloody tedious. I'm not sure whether I even want to say more than that. Probably yes, I will, but this won't be a recommended reading. Even if there's a transformation like Bond's in the 2nd half, it won't make up for the boredom he's already put me through.

Currently 5 stars on Amazon, from 5 ratings... I need to buy something on Amazon just so I requalify for review writing.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on September 06, 2021, 03:28:53 AM
Okay, so I'm back to say a bit more about Petrushansky.

It's not all bad. Take the D flat prelude and fugue, for instance, which has a fair amount of fire. But that demonstration that Petrushansky can play one of the most technically demanding pieces in the set at an appropriate tempo just makes me wonder even more why so many of the other pieces are so damn slow. It can only be because he has made a 'musical' decision that he wants them that way.

Maybe some of the slow pieces would work by way of contrast, but there are just so many of them. Time and again he's the slowest recording I've heard, and many of those performances have no impact. Over time, any notion that they're contemplative gets replaced by the feeling that they're just boring. Sometimes there's colour and shaping, yes, but not often enough. Far too many preludes, in particular, have the same kind of withdrawn quality, and a few of them are frankly tortuous.

So there were long stretches of this where I was either grinding my teeth or just not feeling anything. Then all of a sudden there's be something which would work. The fact that Petrushansky can play the way he does in the B major, D flat major or B flat major only makes it all the more disappointing that the vast majority of the time, he chooses not to.

There are also a few places where the rhythm seems unsteady, the G sharp minor prelude being the glaring example.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on September 10, 2021, 03:21:23 AM
It seems as though Levit is going to be a good antidote.  He's taking these quicker than I was expecting, turning the shorter pieces into miniatures.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: milk on September 10, 2021, 03:58:28 AM
It seems as though Levit is going to be a good antidote.  He's taking these quicker than I was expecting, turning the shorter pieces into miniatures.
I'm listening to this right now. I have nothing to add but I am curious what people think. Like, what stands out?
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on September 10, 2021, 04:35:14 AM
Just looking at timings suggests that few of Levit's interpretations will be extreme, but of course that's just the clock talking.

I've slotted him into the list. Only 6 more performances to listen to...
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on September 10, 2021, 09:17:16 PM
Craig Sheppard's recording is compiled from 2 live concerts. So that's different to usual for a start.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51PCTfrm6zL._SX425_.jpg)

There is a lot to like here. Sheppard has a really fine singing tone, a lot of clear voicing (in preludes just as much as fugues), and a lot of capacity for tonal colour and shaping.  He's not averse to the occasional 'Romantic' touch, but in ways that make a lot of musical sense.

So all of that is very positive indeed. Against that, though, is a little bit of a lack of contrast. Mostly I think this comes down to choice of tempo. Most of the slower pieces are played moderately fast, and most of the faster pieces are played moderately slow. You couldn't point to any one piece and say that the tempo is inappropriate as such, especially not when Sheppard does such a nice job with things like dynamics and articulation, but the overall effect is a kind of blending together that becomes a bit less interesting over time. The B flat minor fugue is played rather fast (and to be honest a touch too aggressively), so when the A flat major prelude begins there's almost no sense of a change of character.  And there are a few of the more vigorous fugues where I really did find myself wishing for just a touch more vigour.

The F sharp minor prelude and fugue is a perfect illustration of what you can get out of Sheppard's approach. The prelude is at a moderate tempo, and absolutely full of colour and character. The fugue is fairly fast, a little too fast for my personal taste, but you're unlikely to hear the suspensions in the fugue subject shaped better than this.

But really, you could pick most of the preludes and fugues and hear much the same qualities. Singing lines and moderate tempi. Again and again.

Overall... worth hearing? Definitely. A top choice? No, not quite. A sample is likely to sound really good, but listen to a dozen p&fs in succession and in my opinion the whole doesn't quite add up to the best versions.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on September 10, 2021, 11:58:48 PM
Interesting thanks.  I'd overlooked him, must backtrack and listen.

I'm listening to this [Levit] right now. I have nothing to add but I am curious what people think. Like, what stands out?

It was your post in WAYL2N that alerted me, and I scurried off to Spotify.  Have listened to 1-12 so far, will not get around to 13-16 until tomorrow, and the final eight only if I'm still enjoying the rest.
 
What stands out - well I have to say mostly it's the piano sound which to my ears is verging on the clangorous.  ???  Sort of, the sonic equivalent to the cover image (below).  :o :o  I'm kinda dreading getting to the Stevenson Passacaglia if the sound is going to be the same for that.  Possibly it's an incompatibility with my speakers which sometimes are not as laid-back as I could wish, and a forward, bright piano recording is just the sort of thing that sets them off.  A lot of sustain gives the right-hand notes a tinkling bell-like quality. 
[edit - I now have the booklet and note that the Passacaglia was recorded in a different location - hopefuly a bit less lively and ringy.  Incidentally the P&F was a Covid recording - May 2020 - in the famous (for recording) Jesus-Christus-Kirche.]

Apart from that, first impressions of the performance are that it's fairly neutral (think: Weichert) but with very pointed articulation (think: Lin).  The shorter faster pieces are taken very quickly - actually quite attractive - the slow fugues about par for the course, meaning not quite as slow as I would wish.  But I greatly prefer the piano sound in those two recordings (and most others) compared with Levit.
[edit - Levit absolutely excels in No.12 (both Prelude and Fugue) and even more so in No.15 where both are right up his alley.  Conversely, Prelude 14 is a failure - where's the thunder?? ]

(https://cdn.smehost.net/sonymusicca-caprod/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Picture2.jpg)
Shostakovich: Preludes & Fugues - Stevenson: Passacaglia on DSCH - Igor Levit
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on September 11, 2021, 03:37:41 AM
I decided I needed to listen to at least parts of Melnikov and Lin again, to see if I still like them after all this comparison work.

It’s nighttime so that seems more like a Melnikov thing...

Edit: Okay, I’d forgotten just how spectacular Melnikov’s G major fugue is. It goes off like a rocket!
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: North Star on September 11, 2021, 06:36:17 AM
Interesting thanks.  I'd overlooked him, must backtrack and listen.

It was your post in WAYL2N that alerted me, and I scurried off to Spotify.  Have listened to 1-12 so far, will not get around to 13-16 until tomorrow, and the final eight only if I'm still enjoying the rest.
 
What stands out - well I have to say mostly it's the piano sound which to my ears is verging on the clangorous.  ???  Sort of, the sonic equivalent to the cover image (below).  :o :o  I'm kinda dreading getting to the Stevenson Passacaglia if the sound is going to be the same for that.  Possibly it's an incompatibility with my speakers which sometimes are not as laid-back as I could wish, and a forward, bright piano recording is just the sort of thing that sets them off.  A lot of sustain gives the right-hand notes a tinkling bell-like quality. 
[edit - I now have the booklet and note that the Passacaglia was recorded in a different location - hopefuly a bit less lively and ringy.  Incidentally the P&F was a Covid recording - May 2020 - in the famous (for recording) Jesus-Christus-Kirche.]

Apart from that, first impressions of the performance are that it's fairly neutral (think: Weichert) but with very pointed articulation (think: Lin).  The shorter faster pieces are taken very quickly - actually quite attractive - the slow fugues about par for the course, meaning not quite as slow as I would wish.  But I greatly prefer the piano sound in those two recordings (and most others) compared with Levit.
[edit - Levit absolutely excels in No.12 (both Prelude and Fugue) and even more so in No.15 where both are right up his alley.  Conversely, Prelude 14 is a failure - where's the thunder?? ]

(https://cdn.smehost.net/sonymusicca-caprod/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Picture2.jpg)
Shostakovich: Preludes & Fugues - Stevenson: Passacaglia on DSCH - Igor Levit
Based on brief sampling, the whole Levit release sounds absolutely beautifully recorded to me, with full sound and indeed a fair bit of room echo from the church. It also seems that there's less echo in the Stevenson recorded in Hannover Congress Centrum's Leibniz Saal, which would indeed probably be beneficial for the work.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias on September 11, 2021, 07:27:33 AM
I really like the recording quality on the Levit Op. 87 as well, I appreciate that it is on the dry side; as much as I like Melnikov's performances I only listen to it in small amounts due to the reverberance.

I've had to stop at number 8, if the rest are this good I suspect I'll buy the CD set. I really wish Levit wrote liner notes for this.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: Madiel on September 11, 2021, 11:17:23 PM
Still not listening to Levit yet... today's recording was Colin Stone.

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71vs+pu7CSL._SS500_.jpg)

There are various indications that this is close to being a self-published effort. And you know what? It's good!

Maybe it's not quite at the very top of the tree. If I have a criticism it's that some of the preludes seem to be handled a bit too casually, with a few of them also being taken quite fast. But I found myself feeling this detraction less and less often as the sequence progressed. I'm not sure how much of that is me adjusting, and how much of that is Stone taking the longer and deeper preludes with the seriousness they deserve. I admit to positively rejoicing when the G sharp minor prelude started well.

And the fugues? Admittedly they don't get off to a great start because Stone follows Jarrett into the trap of believing the misprinted metronome in the C major. But missteps after that were very rare indeed. The fugues pretty consistently have character and power. And again they seem to tend to get better as you go. The first half of the E minor double fugue is a bit meh before picking up with the 2nd subject, whereas the whole of the final D minor double fugue is pretty riveting.

So I guess in the first half there were times where I was feeling like this had the potential to be labelled as "good, but a bit inconsistent". But there weren't that many misses, and none of them were really terrible misses anyway, and in the second half, well there were hardly any misses at all. My engagement level stayed high.

And every performance has at least some misses in my opinion. I've listened to 15 different version so far (only 4 more to go...), and as things currently stand? I think I can find room for Colin Stone in my top 5. Admittedly that's in 5th place** but for a performance that comes from an absolutely tiny 'record company' (less than 10 albums, either Colin Stone solo records or chamber music that... seems to usually involve Colin Stone), that's pretty damn impressive.


**I really wasn't intending to create a definite numbered ranking of everything, more clusters, this is really just me expressing that I think this might be fractionally behind the ones I've mentally marked as top choices.
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: The new erato on September 12, 2021, 12:31:29 AM
Colin Bluntstone I know, but Colin Stone? :D
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: aukhawk on September 12, 2021, 03:03:36 AM
I really like the recording quality on the Levit Op. 87 as well, I appreciate that it is on the dry side; as much as I like Melnikov's performances I only listen to it in small amounts due to the reverberance.
I've had to stop at number 8, if the rest are this good I suspect I'll buy the CD set. I really wish Levit wrote liner notes for this.

Presto has it as downloads at a low price (for 3 CDs-worth) which I couldn't resist even though I do have my reservations about the recording.  Fortunately I know and like the Stevenson 'filler'.
The pdf booklet is included but the notes are fairly superficial but do include a couple of generalised insights into the music that I haven't read anywhere else.  Apparently if you buy the vinyl you get "a limited edition printed insert of the 'cryptogram' that Shostakovich used as his musical signature"  ::)
Title: Re: Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues
Post by: hvbias on September 13, 2021, 01:35:12 PM
Presto has it as downloads at a low price (for 3 CDs-worth) which I couldn't resist even though I do have my reservations about the recording.  Fortunately I know and like the Stevenson 'filler'.
The pdf booklet is included but the notes are fairly superficial but do include a couple of generalised insights into the music that I haven't read anywhere else.  Apparently if you buy the vinyl you get "a limited edition printed insert of the 'cryptogram' that Shostakovich used as his musical signature"  ::)

I'm not diligent enough to have proper backups which is why I prefer buying CDs. I'm also considering being a luddite and adding something like a DCS, Esoteric, Naim or Audio Aero CD player to one of my setups :)