Catoire, exceptional amongst Russian pianist-composers, did not complete a set of 24 Preludes. The four Preludes of his Op 17 are, like the pieces of Op 12, self-contained, and are dedicated to Leo Conus, another of the musical brothers. The first, in G sharp, is in the manner of a wistful slow waltz; and the second, in G major, is perhaps not unlike a Rachmaninov fragment. The third, in C minor—marked ‘Andante dramatico’ (sic—it should of course be ‘drammatico’)—is more extensive, suggesting a hidden programme. The diminuendo coda is notably imaginative. The fourth, in B flat—ending in the minor mode—is only 28 bars long, but Catoire’s remarkable contrapuntal mastery, the lines seemingly independent but magically woven together, shows this composer at the height of his powers.
from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 1999