The title of this U.S. release does not give you much of an idea of what it contains. "Soviet Piano Music" would have been a better descriptor; the tracks by Arvo Pärt and Kara Karayev (also known as Gara Garayev), more than half the total, are not Russian. Nor is the program a general selection of the sort that the title 20th Century Russian Piano Music might imply, but rather one focused on a specific facet of Soviet music: the interest on various composers' part in the keyboard prelude and other forms whose ancestry goes back to the Baroque era. All this said, it's pretty interesting that pianist Vladimir Yurigin-Klevke finds this common thread in the works of quite a diverse set of composers. Even considering that the Pärt Partita, composed in 1965, is not representative of his later and better-known minimalist style, these are still composers who are not often programmed together, and it's intriguing to hear them juxtaposed. In Sofia Gubaidulina's Ciaconna of 1961, the Baroque ground bass device serves as a tension-generating counterweight to the composer's trademark violent contrasts. The Pärt piece comes from a transitional phase between his twelve-tone phase and his radically simplified language; it seems to reflect an early attempt to purify his style through an immersion in Bach. Shostakovich's 24 Preludes, Op. 34, represented by eight single preludes, also refer to Bach, while Karayev's 24 Preludes for piano look back to Chopin and mix the rhythms of the composer's native Azerbaijan with Chopin-like explorations of a single musical device. Two preludes and fugues from yet another set, that of Rodion Shchedrin, serve as an intermezzo between these two sets. The entire program coheres as a set of reflections on the significance of formal procedure in a musical world subject to totalitarian control, and despite the murky presentation those interested in the music of the Soviet period will get a lot out of it and of the mostly little-known music involved.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|24 Preludes, Op. 34|
|24 Preludes and Fugues for Piano|
|24 Preludes for Piano|