I was chatting with a good friend about the Shostakovich Preludes & Fugue several weeks ago, and I mentioned being singularly unimpressed with the performances I have in my possession (Tatiana Nikolaeva, recorded 1987 and 1990; Roger Woodward RCA Red Seal LP CRL2-5100, 1975; and Dmitri Shostakovich himself doing 8 of the 24 Preludes and Fugue on MK LP 1565, 1961). The composer's take on his works are somewhat erratic and his pianism can be rough at times, but he can also imbue them with excitement. I mentioned to my friend that I thought that the main reason I was unimpressed was that the music itself was less than impressive. I have not heard the 1962 recordings by Tatiana Nikolaeva, and these are said to be the hallmark of this music. Her later recordings are stodgy, I think. Woodward is faulted for being too pristine and academic; that is, music minus the soul. Well, I have heard Muza Rubackyte play Liszt and decided that I should hear her take on the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugue and believe me, this is the real thing! She plays this music much like the Liszt, that is, with a longer melodic line, with verve and drive and with great poetic beauty. She has entirely made me forget that I thought it was the music at fault. Not so, the fault was in the interpretations. Hers is nothing less that sublime! The thundering granduer of the final Prelude and Fuge in D minor is absolutely breathtaking. The fitting end to the ascending circle of fifths ala Bach. The recording is faultless and the piano sounds like a piano; very life-like. To me this pushes the others well to the side. Treat yourself to this recording!