Complete: March – Waltz – Polka [3'51] recorded 2 September 1938
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|Tatiana Nikolayeva (piano)|
|Moura Lympany (piano)|
Whilst it is tempting to imagine that these three brief pieces could have been the ‘lost’ three from the set of eight Preludes of the previous year, perhaps recomposed, the fact that they are genre—and not abstract—pieces disabuses such a view. In addition, they exhibit far greater tonal freedom than the earlier pieces and are obviously the work of a more experienced composer—aged sixteen! Curiously, Shostakovich was reluctant to see these in print, also: they were not published until 1937 (although one source claims 1926 as the date of publication); the Dances did not appear in print in the USA until 1945. Further confusion surrounded them, for they were originally published as his Opus 1 (which is an orchestral Scherzo in F sharp minor).
However, the set of Three Fantastic Dances (which is dedicated to a fellow student, Joseph Schwarz) received its first performance in Moscow on 20 March 1925 at an all-Shostakovich recital (which also included the first performances of the Suite for Two Pianos opus 6, the First Piano Trio Opus 8 and the Three Pieces for cello and piano opus 9).
The opening March is reasonably firmly anchored to C major, and via the leading-note (B) tends to gravitate towards the flat supertonic, producing piquant cadences. G major, the key of the central Waltz, is initially approached obliquely, and this curiously haunting little fragment is the first of many highly un-Viennese waltzes Shostakovich wrote throughout his career. The final Polka is another ‘first’, as this also later became a much-favoured dance form for the composer. But already, this is the fully formed musical character of Shostakovich, one of the most distinctive voices in twentieth-century music.
from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 1992
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