Preludes & Fugues Op.87 Alexander Melnikov Harmonia Mundi - HMC 902019 (three discs)

The Bach playing of Tatiana Nikoleyeva was the inspiration in 1950 for Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues, and her two recordings inevitably are seen as definitive. (Nikoleyeva endeared herself to London audiences late in life; she also made several Hyperion discs.) The young Moscow pianist provides a booklet overview of exceptional thoroughness, although the accompanying 23m DVD interview with a stubbly Andreas Staier gets us practically nowhere. Melnikov’s pianistic range, though, is something else. He’s profoundly sensitive to the introspection but contrasts these with extreme alacrity (No.2/P) or iron strength (No.14/P). An outstanding set. 

Sound Quality: 95%