The most significant of Dmitry Shostakovich's solo piano works are presented on Andrey Gugnin's 2019 release from Hyperion, reflecting three stages of his development from student composer to mature master. The Piano Sonata No. 1 was originally subtitled "October Symphony," and was intended as a tribute to the October revolution of 1917, though the overt association was dropped when Shostakovich dubbed his Symphony No. 2 in B flat major "To October." Composed in 1926, this wild and impulsive sonata is from Shostakovich's most experimental period, and demonstrates the young composer's eagerness to join the avant-garde. Similarly inventive, though more concentrated on a tonal scheme based on the circle of fifths, were the 24 Preludes and Fugues (1932-33), which reveal a greater contrapuntal discipline and control of materials. Between this set and the Sonata No. 2 in B minor of 1943, Shostakovich had been chastised by the Soviet authorities in 1936 for his opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and he turned to a more accessible and melodic style that may have kept him alive. This sonata, and the "Nocturne" excerpted from the ballet, The Limpid Stream, are perhaps the most conventional sounding pieces here and less stylistically identifiable, but Gugnin's thoughtful performances bring the program together, not as a full portrait of Shostakovich the composer, but as a consideration of his adaptability to the changing times and his genius in many forms and styles.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|24 Preludes Op. 34|
|Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 61|
|The limpid stream, Op. 39|