Home | Audio Reviews |Audiophile Shows | Partner Mags News

Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Dmitry Shostakovich
24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87 
Alexander Melnikov, Piano

Review By Phil Gold
Click here to e-mail reviewer

 

  Here is a new recording of a relatively modern masterpiece, the 24 Preludes and Fugues composed in a short period (October 1950 to February 1951). The story goes that Shostakovich was so struck by Tatiana Nikolaeva's performance of Bach's Well-Tempered Klaviar given at the Bicentennial Bach competition in Leipzig that he immediately set to work on his own homage to both the composer and the performer. Nikolaeva, the dedicatee and first public performer, became completely identified with this work and recorded it three times. We can say perhaps that her interpretation has set the standard against which others should now be judged. Most recordings fit neatly onto two discs but Melnikov's spacious effort does not, leaving the final prelude and fugue to a third disc. In compensation, you can turn that disc over and find a DVD with an interview of the pianist by none other than Andreas Staier. Melnikov has also written revealing liner notes to compete this luxurious package.

This recording has already won high praise in some quarters, most notably from eminent New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini, but sadly, I don't share his enthusiasm. Melnikov's recording does not captivate me. I must take issue with several aspects of his playing. First, his phrasing, foursquare and at times disjointed, does not convince me; several times I found myself surprised by his lack of imagination. While his articulation is excellent at any tempo, where is the flair, poetry and daring of a great artist? Secondly, it takes more than technical facility to make sense of the fugue, and here we have 24 of them! To convey the true essence of fugal writing requires defining the various strands into separate and identifiable voices, but unlike Nikolaeva, Richter, Ashkenazi or Keith Jarrett, Melnikov tends to play all parts equally. I have similar issues with the widely praised Bach of András Schiff, while much preferring artists like Tureck and Brendel who manage the extraordinary multiple voicing I crave with apparent ease.

The first authority on this particular music is naturally the composer himself, and his performance reveals a work of great interest, variety and intellectual challenge. Lines are much clearer, phrasing far more natural and poetic, with exemplary voicing. But for its not-ready-for-prime-time sound, limited availability, and the incompleteness of the set, I might have said we have a winner. But Shostakovich had no appetite for retakes, so it's not note-perfect, and the set is incomplete and not widely available. Nikolaeva is the safe choice here, and there is much to admire in her exuberant renditions -- big, bold and often beautiful. She lacks the last word in virtuosity, and you may prefer the cooler and more technically accurate Jarrett, taking a break from his jazz beat.

What the world needs now is a first-rate performance in outstanding modern sound. I was hoping this would be it, but not only does the playing disappoint, so also does the recording quality, which I find relatively shallow and steely. I would direct your attention instead to another new release, from Jenny Lin on Hannsler Classic. Here is a superb-sounding, full-blooded account (on two discs) that puts even Nikolaeva in the shade.

 

 

Performance: 

Enjoyment: 

Sound Quality: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

Quick Links


Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews

 

Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Preamplifiers
Amplifiers
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews

 

Videos
Enjoy the Music.TV

 

Columns
Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles


Show Reports
Capital Audiofest 2021 Show
The HiFi Summit Q2 2021
T.H.E. Show 2021 Report
The HiFi Summit Q4 2020
The HiFi Summit Q2 2020
Bristol Hi-Fi Show Report 2020
Florida Audio Expo 2020 Show Report
New York Audio Show 2019 Report
Capital Audiofest 2019 Show Report
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2019
High End Munich 2019 Show Report
Click here for previous shows.

 

Other
Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty

 

Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions

 


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information

 

Partner Print Magazines
audioXpress
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
HIFICRITIC
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine

 

For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics

 

Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!

 

 

    

Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us

 

All contents copyright©  1995 - 2021  HighEndAudio.com and Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.