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Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87

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Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87 + Piano Sonata 1 / 24 Preludes
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Editorial Reviews

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Shostakovich performed at a Bach bicentennial festival at Leipzig in 1950. Under the spell of Bach, he quickly wrote this homage, which contains some of his most consistently inspired and inventive music. After half a century, it is now accepted as a timeless classic, a sincere homage to Bach, still individual and expressive. Shostakovich wrote the music for his student Tatiana Nikolayeva, who performed the world premiere. Her three recordings of the cycle are close to definitive, especially the set on Melodiya, which is economically priced but uneconomically spread over three CDs. Scherbakov, who has already made some impressive discs for Naxos, provides a very strong challenge. No recording of this cycle has captured the brooding, inward quality of some of this music as well as Nikolayeva's, but Scherbakov comes close. Where virtuosity is required, he actually surpasses the impressive Nikolayeva. Considering the fine sound quality and extremely reasonable price of this set, it's at least a clear second choice for the ultimate recording of the series, and probably a good first choice for an introduction to the music. The performances are even superior to the well-known versions by Keith Jarrett and Vladimir Ashkenazy. --Leslie Gerber


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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 1 in C major: Moderato 2:51$0.89  Buy MP3 
  2. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 1 in C major: Moderato 4:01$0.89  Buy MP3 
  3. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 2 in A minor: Allegro0:51$0.89  Buy MP3 
  4. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 2 in A minor: Allegretto 1:33$0.89  Buy MP3 
  5. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 3 in G major: Moderato non troppo 1:51$0.89  Buy MP3 
  6. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 3 in G major: Allegro molto 1:56$0.89  Buy MP3 
  7. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 4 in E minor: Andante 1:57$0.89  Buy MP3 
  8. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 4 in E minor: Adagio 5:34$0.89  Buy MP3 
  9. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 5 in D major: Allegretto 1:43$0.89  Buy MP3 
10. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 5 in D major: Allegretto 2:00$0.89  Buy MP3 
11. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 6 in B minor: Allegretto 1:42$0.89  Buy MP3 
12. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 6 in B minor: Allegro poco moderato 3:59$0.89  Buy MP3 
13. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 7 in A major: Allegro poco moderato 1:23$0.89  Buy MP3 
14. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 7 in A major: Allegretto 2:47$0.89  Buy MP3 
15. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 8 in F sharp minor: Allegretto 1:17$0.89  Buy MP3 
16. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 8 in F sharp minor: Andante 7:10$0.89  Buy MP3 
17. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 9 in E major: Moderato non troppo 2:36$0.89  Buy MP3 
18. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 9 in E major: Allegro 1:35$0.89  Buy MP3 
19. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 10 in C sharp minor: Allegro 1:52$0.89  Buy MP3 
20. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 10 in C sharp minor: Moderato 5:42$0.89  Buy MP3 
21. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 11 in B major: Allegro 1:21$0.89  Buy MP3 
22. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 11 in B major: Allegro 2:10$0.89  Buy MP3 
23. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 12 in G sharp minor: Andante 3:12$0.89  Buy MP3 
24. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 12 in G sharp minor: Allegro 3:30$0.89  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 13 in F sharp major: Moderato con moto 1:59$0.89  Buy MP3 
  2. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 13 in F sharp major: Adagio 4:55$0.89  Buy MP3 
  3. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 14 in E flat minor: Adagio 3:33$0.89  Buy MP3 
  4. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 14 in E flat minor: Allegro non troppo 2:17$0.89  Buy MP3 
  5. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 15 in D flat major: Moderato non troppo 3:03$0.89  Buy MP3 
  6. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 15 in D flat major: Allegretto 1:54$0.89  Buy MP3 
  7. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 16 in B flat minor: Allegro molto 2:36$0.89  Buy MP3 
  8. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 16 in B flat major: Andante 6:46$0.89  Buy MP3 
  9. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 17 in A flat major: Allegretto 1:57$0.89  Buy MP3 
10. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 17 in A flat major: Allegretto 3:50$0.89  Buy MP3 
11. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 18 in F minor: Moderato 2:21$0.89  Buy MP3 
12. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 18 in F minor: Moderato con moto 2:54$0.89  Buy MP3 
13. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 19 in E flat major: Allegretto 2:13$0.89  Buy MP3 
14. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 19 in E flat major: Moderato con moto 2:33$0.89  Buy MP3 
15. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 20 in C minor: Adagio 3:47$0.89  Buy MP3 
16. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 20 in C minor: Moderato 5:07$0.89  Buy MP3 
17. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 21 in B flat major: Allegro 1:16$0.89  Buy MP3 
18. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 21 in B flat major: Allegro non troppo 2:59$0.89  Buy MP3 
19. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 22 in G minor: Moderato non troppo 2:07$0.89  Buy MP3 
20. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 22 in G minor: Moderato 3:15$0.89  Buy MP3 
21. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 23 in F major: Adagio 2:51$0.89  Buy MP3 
22. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 23 in F major: Moderato con moto 3:14$0.89  Buy MP3 
23. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Prelude No. 24 in D minor: Andante 3:43$0.89  Buy MP3 
24. 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87: Fugue No. 24 in D minor: Moderato 7:25$0.89  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Performer: Konstantin Scherbakov
  • Composer: D. Shostakovich
  • Audio CD (February 20, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Naxos
  • Run Time: 142 minutes
  • ASIN: B000050XA2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,055 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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98 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Evan Wilson on February 21, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Shostakovich's 24 Preludes & Fugues are the pinnacle of 20th century piano music as far as I am concerned. They cover a wide range of moods and reveal new facets every time I listen to them. They can be enjoyed for the pure pleasure of their counterpoint, but Shostakovich also buried much pain and suffering in these pieces. No existing complete set gets them completely right, and this version is no exception. That said, this is still a terrific recording. Scherbakov appears to have looked deeply into Shostakovich's harmonic thinking and reveals some amazing things. At every turn, one hears interesting progressions and sonorities through his care with balances and voice-leading.
This is especially true in second half of the set which in the past frequently seemed drier to me than the earlier pieces. Scherbakov reveals that they are merely subtler than the first twelve or so. Check out Preludes 21 and 22 for an idea of what I'm talking about. In the moto perpetuo of #21, things start out clear and simple but then the harmony spins widely of kilter and Scherbakov delights in the wayward movement. In the following Prelude, check out the really creepy sounds he elicits at the beginning.
Overall, this is a very subdued rendition of this cycle and therein lies my only criticism. Some of the "bigger" fugues need a bit more heft than Scherbakov gives them. Still, he is so wonderfully intimate in these pieces that it's hard to quibble, especially for the asking price.
If I was just being introduced to the music, I'd choose the Jarrett set for the incredible sense of wonder he brings to his cycle. But if that set entices you into the music, then this is the next set to get to reveal the richness in this music. Now, if we can only get a set with blazing intensity, I'll be completely happy.
PS At all costs avoid the Ashkenazy. It may look enticing, but it's incredibly stale and dull.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 14, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975) is best-known for his symphonies and for his difficult political life in the former Soviet Union. Between 1950-1951, while his work was under a performance ban, Shostakovich composed a work for solo piano, the "24 Preludes and Fugues" Op. 87, which is remarkable for its intimacy and devotion to the art of pure music. It is one of the great piano works of the twentieth century. The complete work is performed on this 2-CD collection by Konstantin Scherbakov, a young Russian pianist.
Shostakovich's work consists of a prelude and a following fugue in each major and minor key. It is modeled after Bach's two-volume "Well-Tempered Clavier" which consists of two volumes of preludes and fugues in each key. (Shostakovich was asked after completing this work whether he would compose another set, to parallel Bach's two sets. "Never!", he replied.) Chopin's 24 preludes is another model. I found Shostakovich's work closer in spirit to Chopin than to Bach.
Unlike Bach's collections, which proceed in order on the chromatic scale, (c major and minor, c-sharp major and minor,d major and minor, etc) Shostkovich's cycle follows the circle of fifths. Thus, the first prelude and fugue is in C major while the second is in the minor key with the same signature as C major -- A minor. The work then proceeds up by fifths -- to G major and its relative minor of E-minor througout the 24 major and minor keys.
In some instances, (such as nos. 3,6, and 10) the prelude and the fugue are written to contrast with each other. But most of the sets, I found, were complimentary in character with both the prelude and fugue expressing different aspects of the same emotional mood.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Moran on July 15, 2002
Format: Audio CD
An utterly sensitive and delicate performance. Mastery of intricate rhythms. Phrasing impeccable. Profound sense of the meaning of chords and chord changes. Innate sensibility as regards to the intentions of the composer. Total command of the instrument. Dynamics almost beyond belief.
Acoustics and recording exceptional.
First choice and first rate if you're into Shostakovich.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Graham V. Foy on January 10, 2004
Format: Audio CD
These are probably my favorite work by Shostakovich. Not being too big a fan of the more-celebrated symphonies, I believe that this work reveals much more of the man then most people think it does.
Shostakovich once said that his symphonies ultimately represented "a set of tombstones" to him. I mention this not, of course, to detract from those who praise those works. Shostakovich lived through the twentieth century as a Russian and a Soviet, so it's easy to see the root of all the angst and sadness he expressed through them. That, in short, is why they're still istened to even today, because of the level of emotion which was expressed with the aid of his musical genius. I can't help but view the symphonies as amazing in their own right.
The preludes and fugues, op. 87, couldn't be more different. They were written for solo piano, and are mostly subdued pieces where the symphonies are perfectly cacphonous. What I'd like to suggest, is that these pieces represent a kind of photo negative of the symphonies. Take a listen to a few of them. They sound so delicate - so full of innocence and youthful ardor! And yet so precise! One can scarcely believe they weren't written by a 20-year old prodigy. Where the symphonies drown you in a direct emotional assault, the preludes are like a light sprinkle of rain, often merely hinting at the emotions behind them. This of course is just what makes them such wonderful pieces to listen to, time and again. Each fugue behaves in much the same way that those of Bach did, with a well-defined subject and counter-subject, and yet so much arises out of this simple dynamic it is hard to put into words the effect they can have on a person.
I personally believe that Shostakovich was able to exorcise his demons through the symphonies. But what of his happiness?
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