Waiting for execution is one of the themes that have tortured me all my life. That is expressed on many pages of my music. Dmitri Shostakovich

Dmitri Shostakovich’s words from his (disputed) memoirs reflect his life from 1936 onwards at the latest, when a damning article entitled “Chaos not Music” appeared in Pravda. Although Shostakovich was one of the Soviet Union’s most important and prominent composers at the national and international levels, his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (which had a second premiere in modified form as Katerina Ismailova in 1963) had roused Stalin’s anger. Until the latter’s death and even after Shostakovich’s rehabilitation, the composer had to live with destructive criticism and fear.

His 24 Preludes and Fugues, op. 87 (1950/51), were written during this period. They are both witness to and escape from his mental state. One of the sources of Shostakovich’s inspiration was his presence in Leipzig at the events organised to celebrate the second centenary of the death of J.S. Bach, whose music had interested him at the age of 12 already and served him as a support and moral foundation at times of heavy blows of fate.

The Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov, who thrilled the musik+ audience in June 2016 already, communicates the existential strength of this music.