Preludes and Fugues, Op.87 – Shostakovich

by richibi


  Tatiana Nikolayeva





during this period of self-isolation, it

is nearly an unavoidable consequence

of such imposed solitude that one

would become contemplative, though,

I must admit, this is not for me an

especially unusual state


lately, I’ve returned to the Preludes and

Fugues of Shostakovich, a reinterpretation

of the form that Johann Sebastian Bach

had initiated in 1722, and indeed

reinterpreted himself between 1739 and 

1742, each set known separately as 

Books 1 and 2


a prelude is, as the name itself suggests,

an introductory piece, and I won’t get into

any further explanations of it, which would

be technical, and not especially relevant



a fugue is a line of music, however, that 

is repeated a few bars in so that the tune 

ends up essentially analyzing itself, for

voice we know this as singing in canon,

you’ve probably done this yourself, in a

group, singing, for instance, Row, Row,

Row Your Boat, or, even in French,

 Frère Jacques


but the strictly instrumental form becomes,

by virtue of re-examining itself over and

over again, nearly, by definition,



there are neither highs nor lows, which

is to say, alterations in volume, in a fugue,

so that the couple of hours it takes to get

through any set including them would be

restful, though never not intellectually

intriguing, much as mental meandering,

or daydreaming, speculation, is


Shostakovich, much as Bach did,

composed his in every key, major

and minor, for a total of 24


here are his first 12


here are the remaining dozen


they were written by Shostakovich for

Tatiana Nikolayeva, who plays them

 herself in both of these iterations


sit back, relax, enjoy



R ! chard