Preludes, Op. 34 (Excerpts) - Clarinet and Piano

Catalog: K116KE

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Transcription for clarinet and piano: Julian Paprocki. Duration: 15'

The 24 Preludes op. 34 by Dmitri Shostakovich (born September 25, 1906 – died August 9, 1975) were composed between December 1932 and March 1933. The world premiere was given by the composer himself in May 1933 in Moscow. The publication, two years after the creation in 1935, was carried out by the Moscow National Music Publisher (MUZGIZ). The Preludes were composed at the same time as the opera Lady Macbeth from Mtsensk.

We must not forget Shostakovich's piano career. In 1927, he received the distinction at the first Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw (January 23-30), 1st prize was awarded to Lev Oborine. In the same year, just after the competition, he began to compose a cycle of piano miniatures Aphorismes op. 13 (February 25 – April 7). The creation of the Preludes op. 34 was to contribute to Shostakovich-pianist's return to the stage after a three-year absence between 1930 and 1933.

These piano works are in a way emblematic of the composer's style and musical language. Although the cycles were composed six years apart, Préludes and Aphorismes maintain a similar aesthetic with tempered expressiveness, transparent texture and compact form. The two cycles are clearly opposed to the other work composed just before in 1926, the Piano Sonata op. 12 considered young and dashing.

In the Preludes, the style of the young composer is crystallized. The cycle contains 24 preludes organized in the same way as the Preludes op. 28 by Frederic Chopin. Shostakovich goes through, key by key, the whole circle of fifths, linking the parallel keys in pairs. In addition to the formal idea, it also refers several times to the poetic impulses of Chopin (preludes N°17 and N°22). But there are also other inspirations and references. In the first preludes, we hear the colors of the work of another great Russian composer: Sergei Prokofiev - Visions fugitives op. 22 (composed between 1915 and 1917). The correspondences with other composers are also manifested by the harmony of the work of late Franz Liszt (No. 14) or by the Schubertian character of the march (No. 16).

Shostakovich composes his Preludes in a fairly conventional way, he does not use any surprising means or strong contrasts, he concentrates instead on subtle nuances, as much in the preludes as in the whole of the work. In the sequence of successive preludes, Shostakovich seeks to balance lyricism with humor and seriousness with parody.

Shostakovich would return to the idea of ​​a cycle based on a complete cycle of fifths in the years 1950-1951, composing his masterpiece Preludes and Fugues op. 87 echoing Johann Sebastian Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.

There have been many arrangements and transcriptions, both of this whole cycle and of this selection (the best known being the version for violin and piano arranged by D. Tsyganov). This publication is the first adaptation of Shostakovich's Preludes for clarinet and piano.

This edition is a collection of 11 preludes. When transcribing, it was necessary to enrich the piano part a little or to harmonize the accompaniment. In order to extract and enjoy the sound qualities of the clarinet, a compromise has sometimes been necessary. The clarinet part has been adjusted to the possibilities of the instrument.

The order of the preludes in this publication respects the original structure with the omission of the non-transcribed preludes.

Table of Contents:
  • No. 1 in C major
  • No. 2 in A minor
  • No. 3 in G major
  • No. 5 in D major
  • No. 8 in F-sharp minor
  • No. 10 in C-sharp minor
  • No. 11 in B major
  • No. 12 in G-sharp minor
  • No. 17 in A-flat major
  • No. 18 in F minor
  • No. 24 in D minor
Publisher: Klarthe Editions
Composer/Author: Shostakovich, Dmitri
Arranger/Editor: Paprocki, Julian
Catalog Number: K116KE