About this work
Works written during a composer's teenage years are usually classified as juvenilia or viewed as curiosities. The Fantastic Dances (3), completed when Shostakovich was 16, clearly runs counter to the trend: each of this trio of short piano pieces is well crafted and, if not yet divulging the fingerprints of the mature Shostakovich, at least contain a good measure of humor and charm, traits not necessarily common in the music of seasoned twentieth century composers.
The first, marked Allegretto, is a mixture of Prokofiev (the playfulness of the Visions Fugitives hovers above) and Debussy. Yet it is not slavishly derivative, and already suggests an individual voice emerging, with echoes here and there of the Preludes and Fugues (24) to come. The second piece, marked Andantino, is dreamy in the outer sections, brash in the brief inner portion. Again the music calls to mind the two composers cited above, though it tilts a bit more toward Debussy this time. Marked Allegretto, the last of the three Fantastic Dances is playful in its jaunty and humorous main theme, and while hardly free of influences, it is perhaps the most individual of the trio, containing some of that sassy and colorful character heard in many of the composer's lighter symphonic scherzos. The entire set lasts a mere three-and-a-half minutes or so, but is thoroughly enjoyable, with not a single moment of note-spinning.