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4.0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove of Socialist Realist Music, 5 Feb 2014
By 
Charles Voogd (Underwaterland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Why this CD is advertised as Kabalewsky I don’t know, ‘Kabalevsky’ is far more preferable. I really enjoyed this very well crafted, positive music. Kabalevsky must have been a kind of socialist-realistic chameleon, never making the officials angry, being always on the right path (with his music and his teaching) and getting State-prize after State-prize. That doesn’t mean his music is uneventful or dull, it’s full of orchestral splendor, great orchestration and it’s to the point. It never pales and gives soloists many opportunities to display their technique. Thorleif Thedéen isn’t a household name playing Kabalevsky but the music must have triggered him to give himself for the full 100% as does the orchestra and conductors. The Colas Breugnon-suite is a very impressive bonus on this disc. It’s played with verve but I think there’re versions (CSO under Reiner, Jelvakov on Naxos) that are rhythmically more precise and outspoken than this one.
I found the intense rhythmic passages halfway the second concerto – the point where the saxophone start a jazzy (the Russian way to be sure) tune – somewhat underplayed. My other recording of this concerto on Chandos with Raphael Wallfisch makes much more of this orchestral wizzardy and sounds more poignant and precise.
A word on orchestral balance. This is extremely focused on the cello, especially the start of the second concerto that begins with a quiet cello solo. You’ll never hear the instrument in the concert hall like this but it gives you the opportunity to listen to Thedéen great technique; the sniffing etc. that so many cellists seem to give as an extra is for free.
I didn’t enjoy the information? given in the booklet. It seems the writer is on a personal odyssey to reveal for himself who Kabalevsky was, delved into archives, spoke with Brezjnev himself, asked Stalin why Kabalevsky was so much in vogue etc. Not a word of musical information. Hopelessly theoretical and intellectual annoying blabla. The same writer? got free space in CPO’s booklets that accompany the Reznicek CD’s, beware!
These recordings were done in 2009 and issued 2013 by CPO. Before this release CPO did a great job with a complete survey of Kabalevsky’s symphonies and piano concertos. May we hope for a recording of the man’s cracking Requiem?
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