Michael Korstick: Dmitri Kabalevsky, Piano Sonatas and Sonatinas

review kabalevsky x1 cong

The sleeve notes say Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky, born in St Petersburg on 30th December 1904, achieved international success with music such as his Second Symphony (1934). He came behind Prokofiev and Shostakovich and along with Khachaturian in the “big four” of Soviet music.

The First Sonata (1927), which opens this CD, is among Kabalevsky’s earliest published works, with a Prokofiev influence. Haydn and Scriabin are also mentioned. The sleeve notes explain the more technical elements, and how his music reflected Soviet life.

It is lively, very technical in places; “breakneck” seems a little crude but track 10 is pretty fast. The opener, the No 1, is slower but ornate and does not predict what it is to come, being one of the more tranquil sections of the programme. The gentle melody is almost Vaughan Williams before it goes more Russian; it goes without saying it’s a little bit melancholy, all those cold nights comforted only by vodka and concrete apartments do that to a man. The more technical pieces combine fearsome and aggressive playing with melody. Perhaps not originally, but expressive and impressively played. Out on CPO 555 163-2.

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