The Prelude and Fugue, Op 62 is the earliest and also the most overtly dramatic of Glazunov’s six such works. In the key of D minor, it was written in 1899, the year in which Glazunov was appointed a professor at the St Petersburg Conservatory. It is tempting to see it as an attempt to proclaim his academic credentials. However, there is nothing dry or dusty about this work. Conceived on a grand scale, it also exists in an alternative version for symphonic organ. The piano-writing is of great complexity and is clearly intended to show off the performer’s technical prowess, with the musical lines written sometimes in thirds, sixths and even chords. Contrapuntal textures are a common feature of Glazunov’s music and Shostakovich—while a student at the St Petersburg Conservatory—gained some interesting insights into this facet of his work. In his memoirs he tells us:
[Glazunov] liked to remind us that the most important element in composition is polyphony. When Glazunov sat down to demonstrate something on the piano, he always stressed the accompanying voice and chromatics, the ascending and descending progressions, which gave his playing fulness and life.
from notes by Stephen Coombs © 1996