Bernd Glemser is not the first, nor will he likely be the last, to release a disc or set pairing preludes and fugues from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and Shostakovich's Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues. (For instance, see Olli Mustonen's releases: Bach, Shostakovich: Preludes & Fugues [Germany], Bach & Shostakovich: Preludes & Fugues, Vol. 2). Shostakovich, after all, wrote his set to honor the 200th anniversary of Bach's death and followed Bach's format of a prelude and fugue in each of the major and minor keys. Thus the two sets have much in common. Indeed, Shostakovich quotes or alludes to Bach in a number of places, e.g., the head-theme of the E flat minor fugue by each contains the same four notes (albeit in somewhat different order). Glemser has ordered his recital by more or less pairing Bach and Shostakovich preludes and fugues, sometimes in the same key (or semi-enharmonic in the case of Bach's G sharp minor and Shostakovich's A flat major) and sometimes in the relative minor.
As to Glemser's performances, they are beautifully clear and crystalline without being soulless. He uses little pedal and his articulation is absolutely precise. Still, there is emotion, particularly in the slower, more lyrical pieces, cf. the Bach E Flat Minor Prelude, which sings mournfully. One might argue occasionally with his tempi, as in the first track, Bach's G Major Prelude. When I first heard it I thought, 'Uh oh, we're in for flashy fingers at the expense of harmonic clarity.' But I was wrong. It's more that the Prelude is a true prelude, one that raises the curtain and gets one's attention. Glemser's choice of Shostakovich pieces does not shy away from some of the composer's more avant garde examples in his set. For instance, his Fugue in D Flat Major is worlds away from the corresponding Bach Fugue in the relative minor, B Flat Minor. It surely must have startled even Shostakovich's contemporaries. Glemser plays it with the appropriate fury and thus the next track, Bach's Prelude in B Flat Minor comes as balm to a wound.
Glemser has recorded a lot but is not terribly well known in the US. I have heard a number of his discs and have had a mixed reaction -- for instance, I didn't like his Rachmaninoff recital Sergei Rachmaninov: Corelli Variations, Op.42 / Piano Sonata No.2 in b-flat minor, -- but his playing here is marvelous and worth a strong recommendation.