Libby Burgess piano
Bach Prelude & Fugue in F sharp major BWV 858
Bach Prelude & Fugue in Eb minor BWV 853
Shostakovich arr. Cassidy Prelude in Db & Ab Op 87
Shostakovich Piano Quintet in G minor Op 57
Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet came hard on the heels of his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, criticised by Communist Party hardliners for its excessive modernism; in order to fulfil the Party’s demands of clarity, directness and rigour, this work instead actively turns to older music, taking its inspiration from the counterpoint of Bach. The result is one of the great chamber works in the repertoire, open-hearted and relatable; however, the biting harmonic language and emotional power of this piece set it apart from mere pastiche, the mixture of lyrical intensity and comic satire showing that it is all Shostakovich.
Setting up the quintet we hear preludes and fugues from Bach’s own Well-Tempered Clavier – one of the supreme artefacts of Western culture, its philosophical beauty an eternal inspiration – as well as two Shostakovich preludes, written in answer to that monumental work, and here arranged for strings.