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 minor, 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 twenty-eight 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