The title of this CD is 'Around the Fugue' because pianist Lilia Boyadjieva's program consists mostly of preludes and fugues modeled on the idea so brilliantly put forth by J.S. Bach in his Well Tempered Clavier sets. The program, not yet listed here at Amazon, is as follows:
J.S. Bach: Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV903
Mendelssohn: Prelude and Fugue in B Minor, Op. 35
Liszt: Fantasy and Fugue on B.A.C.H.
Franck: Prelude, Choral and Fugue
Shostakovich: Prelude and Fugue in D Flat Major, Op. 81
Rodion Shchedrin: Prelude and Fugue in G Minor (Left Hand)
Cynthia Lee Wong: Fugato
The Bach Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue is well-known. Less known (at least to me) is the Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue in B Minor, one of a group of six such works, which begins with a brilliant prelude marked by detaché chords in Mendelssohn's typical leggiero style, followed by an energetic fugue with a running theme subjected to a tight contrapuntal working-out. Liszt's Prelude and Fugue on B.A.C.H. (in English terminology: B-flat A C B-natural) is his well-known tribute to his illustrious predecessor. Franck's Prelude, Choral and Fugue is one of his best-known piano works. Its first theme quotes the same notes as the Liszt piece. It is written in rich romantic harmonies more reminiscent of Wagner than of Bach. Shostakovich and Shchedrin each wrote a set of 24 preludes and fugues as Bach had done. The Shostakovich selection here is intentionally childlike in its sweet simplicity. Its fugue is particularly satisfying. Shchedrin's Prelude and Fugue, written for left hand alone, is marked by its spare texture and knotty harmonic language. Finally, contemporary American composer Cynthia Lee Wong (b.1982) is represented by Fugato that, in its two-minute duration, takes us through some pretty gnarly harmonies by way of Bartók and jazz.
Lilia Boyadjieva is a Bulgarian pianist long resident in Paris. Her earlier recording of the complete piano music of Samuel Barber was lauded on its release. Her playing here is masterful and idiomatic. She is given lifelike sound.