Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recording Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues

It looks like my desire to hear all of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Opus 87 collection of 24 prelude/fugue couplings in performance will finally be satisfied.  Alexander Melnikov, whose Harmonia Mundi recording of the full set, received a 2011 BBC Music Magazine Award in the Instrumental category.  Now San Francisco Performances has announced that Melnikov will make his San Francisco debut by performing this collection in its entirety.  The recital will take place in the afternoon (November 12), which is probably good, since it will probably last about three hours (with intermission).

As I have previously written, I got to know this music through a set of free downloads of the complete set, recorded from a recital given by Denis Plutalov at Watson Hall of the North Carolina School of the Arts on May 23, 2005.  The interesting problem that arises, though, is how to fit the full set on CDs.  The first twelve fit comfortably on a single CD, but after that extended prolongation tends to get the better of Shostakovich.  My second CD goes from 13 to 21.  That leaves the remaining three taking about half an hour.  That is not much for a CD.  Fortunately, I could fill out my personal copy with other Plutalov tracks:  Sergei Prokofiev’s eighth piano sonata and Ferruccio Busoni’s arrangement of Siegfried’s funeral march from Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.  On the other hand Harmonia Mundi seems to go all the way from 13 to 23 on their second CD.  That leaves only the final pair.  Apparently they put it on one side of a disc with a DVD of an interview with Melnikov on the other.  Naxos, on a third hand, seems to have fit everything on to two CDs;  but that seems to be because Konstantin Scherbakov gives the selections brisker readings!

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