Jenny Lin

Shostakovich: 24 Preludes & Fugues, Op. 87

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Dmitry Shostakovich's set of 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano Op. 87 is a hard row to hoe; it requires endurance, patience, and discipline and not a small amount of good old-fashioned muscle. Although the aspect of stamina is a significant one in performing this long and arduous cycle, even in the studio environment, Shostakovich's preludes and fugues are generally not considered the domain of younger pianists, as there is a depth of expression that maturity affords such essentially didactic literature: the "big names" associated with this cycle include its dedicatee, Tatiana Nikolayeva, who recorded it more than once, the last time when she was nearing 70, and the mature Keith Jarrett, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and so forth. Jenny Lin is a young pianist and an interesting choice for this cycle -- deliberately composed within rather stringent, self-imposed requirements -- in that she is noted for the wide range of material she covers. Hänssler Classic's Dmitry Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano, Op. 87, is only the second album Lin has done devoted to a single composer; the others are themed compilations of a variety of composers, and this kind of collection has heretofore characterized, if not wholly defined, Jenny Lin's work and its popularity. For Lin and Shostakovich both, this is a victory -- the playing is warm, sensible, and disciplined -- Hänssler's recording is straightforward and direct; every contrapuntal line within Shostakovich's sometimes busy textures are clear. Fans of Lin's recordings like The Eleventh Finger on Koch might find Shostakovich's middle period music a mite conservative, but devotees of Shostakovich should be pleasantly surprised. While these virtuoso pieces are not often used in teaching, those who are studying Shostakovich's preludes and fugues for a recital or what not will find a friend in Lin's well-considered, no-nonsense playing of them, and yes, her youthful stamina, endurance, and muscle are helpful in this music rather than a hindrance.

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