In 1910 and 1915 Glazunov wrote two more preludes and fugues for organ, but it was not until 1918 that he completed his Four Preludes and Fugues, Op 101, for piano. They are a towering achievement. By 1918 Glazunov’s music must have seemed anachronistic. Stravinsky and Prokofiev were the new voices of Russian music and we can hear Glazunov’s attempts to keep up with the avant-garde in his Two Prelude-Improvisations, also written in 1918. It is all the more surprising, therefore, that at this particular time he should have embarked on a set of preludes and fugues. Whilst young composers quietly laughed behind his back, Glazunov set out to demonstrate his compositional skill in this most intellectually demanding medium. The result is amazing. The first in the set is in A minor and is the longest of the four. Solemn and imposing, it has a breadth and solidity which never becomes long-winded. The second, in C sharp minor, is more chromatic and intricate with a sinuous subject which seems to twist around itself. The third, in C minor, has a prelude of wonderfully delicate beauty, whilst its fugue has a first subject based on alternating fifths and fourths. The last of the four, in C major, is the shortest and has a five-voice fugue of imposing sonority.
from notes by Stephen Coombs © 1996