Hyperion Records

Praeludium in D minor, BuxWV140
In his Memoirs, published posthumously in Moscow in 1973, Serge Prokofiev describes how, as an aspiring pianist at the Conservatoire, he was introduced to the music of Buxtehude by Taneyev: students ‘always play Bach’, Taneyev told him, ‘but you play something older – say, Buxtehude. When Bach was a young man, he walked all the way to the next town [Lübeck] to hear him [in 1705/06]. For some people his music will be a novelty … He wrote pieces for organ. You can transcribe one for piano. The transcription won’t involve much work and the piece will be fresh and not threadbare.’ Always attracted by the unusual, Prokofiev took heed. ‘Last spring,’ he wrote to Taneyev (19 August 1910), ‘following your advice, I played Buxtehude’s Fugue in A minor (which I had earlier transcribed for piano) for A N Esipova’s examination. I got an A, and Anna Nikolayevna [Esipova] became very interested in Buxtehude’s fugues. I know that later she got an entire volume of them from A K Glazunov.’

The Prelude and Fugue in D minor was arranged for piano, post-First World War, specifically for Prokofiev’s concerts in the United States: ‘I … recalled the composer that Taneyev had recommended to me, of whom I had a pleasant memory. And since in America the audiences were getting tired of programmes consisting entirely of my own works and demanded that part of the programme be devoted to classics, I preferred to choose classics that would at the same time be novelties – if only because of their decrepitude.’ Published in 1923, it was first heard at a recital in Chicago on 19 January 1922. At the time, Prokofiev was in the midst of a busy schedule conducting the first production of The Love of Three Oranges, premiering the Third Piano Concerto, and playing Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for a newly-formed American society of conscience, The Friends of Soviet Russia.

from notes by Ates Orga © 1998

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