Shostakovich's Music for Piano Solo: Interpretation and Performance

Shostakovich's Music for Piano Solo: Interpretation and Performance

Shostakovich's Music for Piano Solo: Interpretation and Performance

Shostakovich's Music for Piano Solo: Interpretation and Performance

Synopsis

The piano works of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) are among the most treasured musical compositions of the 20th century. In this volume, pianist and Russian music scholar Sofia Moshevich provides detailed interpretive analyses of the ten major piano solo works by Shostakovich, carefully noting important stylistic details and specific ways to overcome the numerous musical and technical challenges presented by the music. Each piece is introduced with a brief historic and structural description, followed by an examination of such interpretive aspects as tempo, phrasing, dynamics, voice balance, pedaling, and fingering. This book will be an invaluable resource for students, pedagogues, and performers of Shostakovich's piano solos.

Excerpt

The piano works of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–75) are among the most precious musical treasures of the twentieth century. Diverse and exciting, they have become an indispensable part of the piano repertoire and are to be found in the repertoire lists of international piano competitions and the syllabi of music schools around the world. The present book is the first English-language publication to offer a comprehensive examination of Shostakovich’s piano music from an interpretation and pedagogical standpoint.

A gifted pianist, Shostakovich wrote for the instrument from his earliest years. Though the style of his early piano works (Eight Preludes, op. 2, and Three Fantastic Dances) was somewhat traditionally romantic, his next compositions (the Piano Sonata No. 1 and Aphorisms) attempted to fuse the contemporary language of modernist music with a more personal mode of expression. After a break in his performance career (from 1930 to 1933), Shostakovich returned to the concert platform with the Twenty-Four Preludes, op. 34, and the Piano Concerto No. 1, works in which his mature style—sharply individualistic and controversial— would begin to emerge.

Unlike other composer-pianists, Shostakovich wrote for the piano relatively sporadically. His next important work, the Piano Sonata No. 2, was completed in 1943, ten years after the concerto. His ultimate piano masterpiece, the TwentyFour Preludes and Fugues, op. 87, was composed in 1950 and 1951. The last two piano works, the Concertino for Two Pianos and the Piano Concerto No. 2, were written in 1956 and 1958, respectively. Two wonderful contributions for children should not be forgotten: Children’s Notebook, written in 1945, and Dances of the Dolls, a piano arrangement of some of Shostakovich’s earlier stage music, made in 1952.

Shostakovich was an active pianist through out his life. He performed publicly as a soloist until 1958 and as an ensemble player until 1966, when disease incapacitated his hands. Fortunately for us, between 1946 and 1958, Shostakovich recorded a number of his own works, including the Three Fantastic Dances, the Polka from The Golden Age, Children’s Notebook, both concertos, ten of the op. 34 Preludes, and seventeen of the op. 87 Preludes and Fugues. Some were recorded twice. Since Shostakovich disliked talking or writing about his music in general, let alone discussing specific problems of interpretation, these recordings remain the primary source of our understanding of Shostakovich’s performance style.

It is important for performers to note Shostakovich’s sometimes idiosyncratic usage of certain musical terms. For example, espressivo indicates not just a higher . . .

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