Tuesday, October 11, 2011
It turns out that Shostakovich, inspired by a recital in Germany of Bach, went home to dash off 24 Preludes and Fugues a la Bach, apparently not in the chromatic order that Bach did them, but obviously derived from Bach's manic sense of cyclicity.
She, Jenny, obviously loves these works, and was trying to get us to see the 1950s Soviet writer in the same framework as the great 1730s (?) German. If Bach invented modern music, as a friend of mine asserted this morning, this Shostakovich was a worthy consequence to his invention.
The Shostakovich pieces were warm, funny, biting, passionate by turns. The great revelation for me, she saved to the last, the Shostakovich Number 24 (the last in his cycle, apparently), a passionate prelude followed by an incredible fugue with a disarmingly simple subject of open fifths, almost childlike in its repetitions, but then... amazing in its potential for development. It seemed to me as if the fugue went through all the keys; as if saying farewell to the project of the Preludes and Fugues, which, at least in Bach, set out deliberately to do just that, go through all the keys. Here's a video of a pianist named David Jalbert playing it. You'll notice that the same theme that in the Prelude is heroic becomes the simple fugue theme.