Opus 5: Three Fantastic Dances (1922)

Three Fantastic Dances, op. 5 (1922)

CD:  Shostakovich: Piano Sonata No. 1, etc., Konstantin Scherbakov, piano (Naxos 8.555781)

More piano miniatures, heard again in Scherbakov’s Shostakovich survey on Naxos.  I imagine the young composer must have known Erik Satie’s work from the preceding couple of decades and imitated it here; at any rate he aims for the same dry humor and air of mystery as the French composer, particularly in the short runs up and down the keyboard in the opening March.  Scherbakov’s reading is appropriately reserved:

The Waltz and Polka that follow are similar in style and a little more forwardly tuneful.  The three make a charming enough five minutes of music, and are the earliest of the composer’s well-known works.  They’ve been recorded often, by among others such notables as Shostakovich himself and a young Glenn Gould (apparently in a piano and violin arrangement that doesn’t flash any of his later, famous musical personality); the dances are well represented on YouTube as well, both in cribbed commercial recordings and — where YouTube shines as a cultural document — in a number of taped recitals and home videos.



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