This is not a flashy recording of Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87. Though the pieces do on occasion demand the utmost technical dexterity, they are not about virtuosity except as a means to an end, the end being passionate objectivity in the face of the music's pitiless austerity. Though the preludes and fugues run the gamut from fresh-faced optimism to dark of night despair, the expression is always ruthlessly clear and direct. A pianist who uses these pieces to showboat is doomed before they touch the keyboard. But a pianist who approaches the works with clarity of thought and purity of heart triumphs from start to finish.
Such a pianist is Kori Bond. The Salt Lake City native has the technique to play Shostakovich's sometimes knotty piano writing without dropping a note, but she also plays with immense musicality. She knows not only how to bring out the best in the preludes' many moods, but how to articulate the fugues so that every voice can be heard in balance with the others. Through her lucid performances, Bond allows the listener to appreciate the genius of the composer's thought without unduly influencing the outcome. The result is a bracing two-disc set that will arrest the unwary listener's attention from the first bars of the serene C major Preludes to the final bars of the thunderous D minor Fugue. Recorded in Goranson Hall on the campus of Idaho State University in Pocatello, the digital sound here is a bit close but very resonant.