KABALEVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in A minor; Piano Concerto No. 4 “Prague”; Symphony No. 2 in C minor – Kathryn Stott, piano/BBC Philharmonic/Neeme Järvi – Chandos

by | Dec 14, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

KABALEVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in A minor; Piano Concerto No. 4 “Prague”; Symphony No. 2 in C minor – Kathryn Stott, piano/BBC Philharmonic/Neeme Järvi – Chandos CHAN 10384, 67:41 ****:

Kabalevsky was a staunch member of the “approved” group of composers during the Soviet era, with strong diatonic melodic writing invigorated with strong rhythmic pulses. Occasionally he could deal in interesting dissonances, but always returning to strict diatonic lines. He wrote many works centered around faithful Soviet subjects, but his early First Piano Concerto has none of them – showing influences of Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakoff. The work is lyrical yet requires a high degree of pianistic skill from the soloist.  The 12-minute Prague concerto is so named due to it being based on three folksongs which the composer learned on a visit to the Czech city. It is deceptively simple in style and employs only a string orchestra plus a side drum in the finale. The first movement has sardonic humor and the finale is both percussive and jazz.

The Second Symphony has been the only one of Kabalevsky’s four symphonies to have found a place in the repertory both in Russia and internationally. The spirit of Russian folk nationalism is strong in the work, which has a strong drive and urgent feeling. The darkly lyrical second movement leads to fast-paced finale with shares an impression of triumph with works such as the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony of the same period.  Chandos’ sonics are about as good as can be squeezed out of the 44.1K CD standard.

 – John Sunier

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