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15.1.05

Dip Your Ears, No. 22 (DSCH Preludes & Fugues)

available at AmazonD. Shostakovich, 24 Preludes & Fugues op. 87,
Keith Jarrett
(ECM 1469/70)

Shostakovich's genius can be difficult to unlock for those who have trouble overcoming his acerbic compositional style. Here's the chance though, as no one (apart from Max Reger, perhaps) has so ably paid tribute to Master Bach as the troubled Russian does in this 20th-century pendant to the German master's Well-Tempered Clavier. Robert Reilly in Surprised by Beauty hits the nail on the head when he talks about a conversation between Shostakovich and Bach over over two centuries. And what a privilege to eavesdrop on that exchange. Less known than other Shostakovich works as it is, you will find out by listening to it that it is so only to our own peril.

Keith Jarrett brings his no-nonsense, dry and clear pianism as well as his unrivaled rhythmic feeling to these works that have me prefer his account even to the lingering and slower dedicatée Mme. Nikolayeva. Jarrett makes it sound like Bach, Nikolayeva like Schumann. Of the many versions released since or prior to this (Ashkenazy-Decca, Scherbakov-Naxos, Jalbert-Atma Classique, Lin-Hänssler, Stone-Big Ears), none surpass Jarrett in what he does so well with the Preludes & Fugues.

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