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Well Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869
Olli Mustonen (Piano)
Bach & Shostakovich Preludes & Fugues from Olli Mustonen

K-2

Bach & Shostakovich: Preludes & Fugues, Vol. 2

 

J.S. Bach: 12 Preludes & Fugues from WTC 1 BWV 846-869:
No. 2 BWV 847 [2:53], No. 3 BWV 848 [3:06], No. 4 BWV 849 [5:39], No. 8 BWV 853 [6:27], No. 9 BWV 854 [2:15], No. 10 BWV 855 [3:14], No. 14 in BWV 859 [3:24], No. 15 BWV 860 [3:37], No. 16 BWV 861 [3:08], No. 20 BWV 865 [4:11], No. 21 BWV 866 [2:49], No. 22 BWV 867 [4:25]
D. Shostakovich: 12 Preludes & Fugues from Op. 87:
No. 1 in C major [4:55], No. 5 in D major [3:15], No. 6 in B minor [5:41], No. 7 in A major [3:19], No. 11 in B major [3:27], No. 12 in G sharp minor [6:16], No. 13 in F sharp major [5:45], No. 17 in A flat major [5:42], No. 18 in F minor [4:31], No. 19 in E flat major [3:47], No. 23 in F major [4:29], No. 24 in D minor [8:51]

Olli Mustonen (Piano)

Ondine ODE-10332

Nov 2002

2-CD / TT: 105:25

Recorded at Nya Paviljongen, Kauniainen, Finland.
Buy this album at:
2-CD: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de
Music Download: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de

Donald Satz wrote (May 6, 2004):
Comparison Versions: Are You Kidding?

There are a whole bunch of odd things going on in this 2-CD set. We have a pianist who insists on being different, particularly with Bach. One moment he's giving us whiplashed notes that I'll call 'stingers', the next moment he sounds rather demure and extremely precious. Mustonen offers waves of changes in tempo and dynamics that you never knew existed (and perhaps don't). Rhythmic patterns are critters to dissect and then rearrange. Throughout it all, Mustonen displays a level of virtuosity I wouldn't have thought possible; this man can do anything he wants on the keyboard.

The program is one you haven't seen recently: 12 preludes and fugues from Bach and 12 from Shostakovich, all sequenced the Mustonen way. Does the Bach/Shostakovich/Mustonen consortium make any sense, or is this corporate endeavor dead in the water?

In answering the above question, it is important to take a look at the applicable Bach and Shostakovich works. Each is based on the laws of mathematics and represents a logical entity; slice it up, and the coherency disappears unless the person doing the slicing comes up with entirely new logic. In my opinion, Mustonen does no such thing.

There are a number of reasons one could find to detest the recordings. Many will consider Mustonen highly willful and full of himself, refusing to accord either composer sufficient respect. Concerning the program, it would be easy to dislike this particular mix of two musical eras. Although the Shostakovich Op. 87 is steeped in Bach's architectural language, the emotional content is so different because of respective personalities and especially the highly divergent ways of life that the two composers faced.

This issue of 'ego' is hard to pass by. Mustonen has taken two of the greatest piano compositions ever created and literally torn them to shreds. Does he consider himself to be on a higher artistic plane than Shostakovich and Bach? Is every score ever written just fodder for self-interest? Of course, I have no idea what Mustonen thinks about this, but his actions speak clearly to this reviewer.

Actually, Mustonen's readings of the Shostakovich pieces are tame and conventional compared to what he does to Bach's soundworld. He generally destroys it and instead offers up 'Mustonen Land'. In some of the Bach pieces, you could be hard pressed to even recognize that Bach is the composer. This is most noticeable in the Fugue in A minor where his excessive speed and rhythmic distortions entirely alter the composer's score.

If Mustonen was simply a typical professional pianist, my review would end with the strong advice to stay away from his new recording. However, Mustonen is no ordinary pianist. In terms of enlightened pianism, technique, and the ability to communicate and challenge, he is the best in the business. As wayward as this two-disc set may be, Mustonen is always compelling.

Don's Conclusions: It's your decision whether 'Mustonen Land' is a place you want to visit. The one thing I can guarantee is that you won't forget the experience. So give some thought to the matter, secure your passport, and enter a unique world. Don't forget to take your shots, because those Mustonen 'stingers' penetrate to the core.

 

Feedback to the Review

Ken Edmonds wrote (May 6, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] Perhaps Mats can work his "magic" and make this into a good recording. :-)

Mats W. wrote (May 6, 2004):
[To Ken Edmonds] I already have Konstantin Scherbakov's recording of Shostakovich 24 Preludes & Fugues. The "idiot producers of classical music" did what they could to ruin this exquisite craftmanship. But I reburnt the CD's and now I can hear the piano in its full timbre. This is very approachable music and yet it has such depth. It's his tribute to Bach

 

Well Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869: Details
Recordings:
Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | 2001-2010
Comparative Review:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
WTC I - D. Barenboim [D. Satz] | WTC I - D. Barenboim [P. Bright] | WTC I - L. Beausejouir & A. Vieru | WTC I - T. Fellner | WTC I - E. Fischer | WTC I - M. Horszowski | WTC I - C. Jaccottet | WTC I - R. Kirkpatrick | WTC I - T. Koopman | WTC I - W. Landowska | WTC I - R. Levin | WTC I - O. Mustonen | WTC I - E. Parmentier | WTC I - S. Richter | WTC I - S. Schepkin
General Discussions:
Part 1
Discussions of Individual Recordings:
WTC I - T. Fellner
Well Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893: Details
Recordings:
Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | 2001-2010
Comparative Review:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
WTC II - D. Barenboim [P. Bright] | WTC II - G. Cooper | WTC II - F. Gulda | WTC II - A. Hewitt | WTC II - R. Kirkpatrick | WTC II - J. Middleton
General Discussions:
Part 1
Well Tempered Clavier Books I&II, BWV 846-893:
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
WTC I&II - B.v. Asperen, S. Ross & G. Wilson | WTC I&II - E. Crochet | WTC I&II - O. Dantone | WTC I&II - S. Feinberg | WTC I&II - A. Hewitt | WTC II&II - T. Nikolayeva | WTC II&II - L. Thiry [N. Halliday] | WTC I&II - Z. Ruzickova

Olli Mustonen: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach & Shostakovich Preludes & Fugues from Olli Mustonen

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Last update: ýFebruary 10, 2011 ý19:41:32