No 1: Un peu triste (after Prelude No 10)
No 2: Marche funèbre (after Prelude No 14)
No 3: Une valse vite (after Prelude No 15)
No 4: Une valse militaire (after Prelude No 16)
No 5: Mélodie amoureuse (after Prelude No 17)
No 6: Une danse ironique (after Prelude No 18)
No 7: Finale (after Prelude No 24)
The twenty-six-year-old Shostakovich composed his set ofbetween 30 December 1932 and 2 March 1933, roughly six years after his previous solo piano pieces, the Aphorisms, Op 13. Their directness and sharply defined characters are surely indebted to the huge amounts of music for stage and screen he had composed in the intervening years. At the same time, they showcase his newly evolving neoclassical style, already more than halfway towards the obligatory moderated language he adopted from the Fifth Symphony (1937) onwards. More practically, they served as vehicles for his own appearances as pianist. Since the first Chopin competition in 1927, where Shostakovich made a strong impression but was not among the top prize winners, he had given up thoughts of a solo performing career. But he continued to perform his own music, and from the late 1940s he also recorded much of it, including twelve of the Op 34 Preludes.
Strakhov’s transcriptions may not be as well known as those by Dmitry Tsïganov for violin and piano, but they are no less resourceful. The pieces are transposed to suit the configuration of the viola, which is generally allocated the main thematic lines (though the fast waltz, No 15, effectively reverses the roles). The French titles are the transcriber’s—the originals give initial tempo indications only—though they take hints from Shostakovich’s notation when the character is less than obvious. The ‘Mélodie amoureuse’, for instance, picks up the ‘amoroso’ marking for the melody beginning in the third bar. The composer’s own recorded performance of this prelude goes a step further, suggesting tipsy strumming in a late-night bar.
from notes by David Fanning © 2012