The Prelude and Fugue
, the final étude in the collection, was actually my first sizeable compositional effort. At the time of writing, I did not have a complete set of études in mind; moreover, the fugue was written first, and it was only natural that I should later preface it, in accordance with a long-established precedent.
Retrospectively, it seems to me that the fugue in particular has a lot in common with the tarantella-like movement of Busoni’s Piano Concerto, which I was learning at the time. The work was never meant to become such a monstrous agglomeration of cruel virtuosic devices; I simply wanted to explore some of the possibilities of the rather silly fugue subject. Once started, the piece started going pretty much on its own, in directions I hadn’t anticipated.
I experienced a rather uneasy moment when, some time after completing the piece, I came across Sergei Taneyev’s Prelude and Fugue in G sharp minor, Op 29. I was alarmed to see that there were some startling similarities between the two fugues: same metre, same key (enharmonically), same pianistic terrains, and a very similar fugue subject. Please be assured that if this were other than mere coincidence, I would be honest enough to admit it!
from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2010