Classical Music | Piano Music

Dmitry Shostakovich

Prelude and Fugue in D-flat Major, Op. 87, No. 15   Play

Soyeon Lee Piano

Recorded on 12/24/2010, uploaded on 12/24/2010

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

While Dmitri Shostakovich followed the example of Johann Sebastian Bach in his Preludes and Fugues, op. 87, he adhered more to the precedent established by Frédéric Chopin with his earlier opus 34 set of preludes. As with the étude, Chopin elevated the prelude to a concert piece in its own right, liberating it, so to speak, from its invariable attachment to a fugue or some other piece. This example was then imitated by future composers, most notably Alexander Scriabin. Shostakovich also partly drew inspiration from Claude Debussy’s 24 Preludes. While Debussy’s preludes did not presume to traverse the twenty-four major and minor keys as Bach and Chopin had done, it nonetheless transformed the prelude form again by the composer’s addition of programmatic descriptions, which were placed at the conclusion of each piece so as not to hinder the artist’s own imagination. Like Chopin, Shostakovich planned a prelude in each key, but the variety of characters traversed in the collection can lead one to believe that, like Debussy, there is a hidden programmatic element, which the composer here has not chosen to divulge. The 24 Preludes, op. 34 were composed during 1932-33, as Shostakovich was working on the opera that would bring him both fame and denunciation. They were also his first compositions for the piano since his opus 10 Aphorisms (1927). During that intervening time, the composer’s style had somewhat mellowed, though had not yet reached the maturity of the later Preludes and Fugues.       Joseph DuBose

Prelude and Fugue in D-flat Major, Op. 87, No. 15

In 1950 Shostakovich attended a competition in Leipzig, Germany, held to honor the bicentennial of Bach's death. He was overwhelmed by listening to Bach's Prelude and Fugues—two sets of 24 preludes and fugues each. The experience inspired Shostakovich to compose his own set of 24 preludes and fugues in all the major and minor keys (Op. 87); Shostakovich composed this opus of nearly 240 pages of music in just three and a half months. The prelude and fugue in D-flat Major starts with a rather sarcastic and witty prelude then goes into one of the most technically stupefying fugues for the piano.         Soyeon Lee