Shostakovich has returned to the roots of his chosen genre by creating a 20th century version of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. The perhaps most surprising thing about this set of works is how faithfully they seem to recall the idiom of the originals. However, this similarity is skin-deep only. The works sparkle with his own brand of angst-ridden humour, although it must be said that they have a far more abstract feel than, for example, his symphonies and string quartets. Ashkenazy has done a sterling job as always. He himself had reservations about recording the entire cycle, but, lucky us, he did indeed do so. An essential addition to the collection of anyone serious about either piano music or modern Russian composers. Or anyone else, for that matter.
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