DMITRI KABALEVSKY: Piano Sonatas Op. 46 in F; Op. 45 No. 2 in E Flat; Op. 6 No. 1 in F – – Christoph Deluze, piano – Praga Digitals multichannel SACD PRD/DSD 250 279, 57:46 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:
Kabalevsky was not as adventurous as his fellow composers in the Soviet Union, and although at one point he was on the list of composers accused of formalism, he later played a major role in the censorship of certain musical works – especially those of Shostakovich. He supported the idea of socialist realism, and one critic called his post-war works in general “popular, bland, and successful.”
However, though Kabalevsky is not often heard in concert halls today, his works for concert piano show great invention and fine melodies. For the first sonata he was still under the influence of his composition teacher, Miaskovsky. It concludes in a festive mode, full of the bells sounds found in many Russian works. The second sonata is the most spectacular of the three sonatas. It is a “war sonata” which ends in a spirit of conquering virtuosity. The Third Sonata is probably the best known, having been performed by both Horowitz and Gilels. First performed in 1947, it was dedicated to Russian pianist Yakov Zak, who first performed it.
In general all of Kabelevsky’s piano sonatas pursue a powerful indictment against violence, hatred and despair. Sonatas on the SACD disc are excellent, with a very natural ambiance, and Deluze’s performance are exceptionally good.
— John Sunier