Notes and Editorial Reviews
Book I: in G,
Book II: in g?,
Preludes and Fugues,
in e; in A?; in e?; in D?
class="ARIAL12"> Bernd Glemser (pn)
OEHMS 738 (61:40)
German pianist Bernd Glemser is not the first artist to combine the Bach and Shostakovich preludes and fugues on disc: Olli Mustonen did so in two double CD sets from RCA (hard to find) and Ondine. On those discs, Mustonen played all of Bach’s Book I and all 24 of Shostakovich’s op. 87, ordering them in a harmonic key system based on a rising fourth.
Glemser’s approach on this single disc is quite different. He has chosen excerpts based on a structural similarity between the themes used by each composer. This gives the program musical unity, and in performance Glemser brings out the stylistic likenesses rather than emphasizing contrasts. (He also departs from Mustonen by dipping into Bach’s Book II.) In addition, Glemser’s program has the kind of balance you would expect in a live recital. He gets off to a bubbling start with the joyous G-Major Prelude and Fugue, following it immediately with the pensive E-Minor Prelude and Fugue by Shostakovich. The central platform of his recital places serious, extended preludes and fugues by both composers together, each in the key of E? Minor. This is followed by one of Shostakovich’s greatest hits (so to speak), the cheeky and sprightly D?-Major Prelude and Fugue, with the B?-Minor pair by Bach closing the program on a more lyrical note.
In short, a lot of thought has gone into the programming, and the pianist brings the same rigor to his performance. While finding the mood of each piece and clarifying the contrapuntal detail, he never oversteps the limits of style or makes his points too heavily (unlike the dazzling but quirky Mustonen). Glemser’s piano is recorded in a slightly distant but flattering acoustic; it is very easy on the ear. I have had increasing pleasure from this disc with every hearing. Strongly recommended.
FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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