24 Preludes by Shostakovich – not Chopin!

24 PRELUDES, OP. 4, composed by the Russian Dmitri Shostakovitch, had their premiere in Moscow on May 24 back in 1933 – the month and year of my birth!

Not surprisingly, I tackled them one by one alongside the 24 of Chopin over a long period of time. Without a doubt, the Polish composer’s oeuvre in the world of preludes for the piano came out on top, despite my best efforts, musically speaking.

According to some, because of their uneven content, the most popular – perhaps – are:

  • No. 10 in C sharp minor, which brings color in its melancholy
  • No. 14 in E flat minor, probably the most serious and morose entry, sounding like late Liszt, replete with tremolos and dark chords
  • No. 15 in D flat major
  • No. 24 n D minor, a zany piece with much color in its march-like theme.

Here is a recording on YouTube by pianist Elisso Wirssaladze for your enjoyment of all the 24 Preludes.

Over and beyond the Shostakovich Preludes, my late good friend and budding Argentinian composer, Edward Budden – who was pursuing a college degree in London in the 1950’s at the same time I was, and who was a determined advocate of ‘modern’ music – was the one who presented me with his copy of Shostakovich’s avant-garde First Piano Sonata (1926) duly autographed by him in September 1951. The non-stop movement with five tempi (Allegro – Adagio – Allegro – Lento – Allegro) was at first quite incomprehensible to me musically speaking, although in the intervening years there’s been a dawning of recognition – I believe! Judge for yourself by listening here to a rendition on YouTube of Sonata No. 1, Op. 12. It’s performed with precision by pianist Boris Petrushansky.

References: My Diary; Wikipedia

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