Recorded in July 1993 in Moscow Radio Studio 5
Kabalevsky's presence in the West rested on his uproarious overture to the opera Colas Breugnon. Olympia have done the most to broaden our knowledge of his music and it is that company who have licensed this issue to the ever-astute Regis label.
Kabalevsky is not one for challenging music although by the time of the 1960s his sinews stiffened and an emotional complexity undreamt of in the 1930s and 1940s began to assert itself. More often than not though he makes use of his facility for writing flowing and life-enhancing music. There is little sardonic pepper or macabre salt in the writing of the First Concerto. Two fluent songful movements frame a moving threnody for the Soviet millions fallen during the Second World War. There is a hint of the same nostalgia and of the rhythmic steel that grips in the music of Kabalevsky's teacher, Miaskovsky who died the year after this was written.
The Second Concerto was written for and premiered by Daniel Shafran who had already recorded the First Concerto with the composer. The three movements played attacca follow the typical Miaskovsky layout: slow-fast-slow. The middle movement is relentless and although it provides contrast for the complex and mournful legato nature of its companions it seems rather like a nod in the ‘right’ direction. If the facile criticism of ‘Prokofiev and water’ means anything for the First Concerto you might substitute Shostakovich's name in the case of the Second Concerto. The work develops an emotional head of steam in the long final section ending with subtly flavoured understatement.
The two fillers: Improvisato blends Shostakovich and Fauré while the Rondo motors along with all the torque and mercury of a Leningrad Khachaturian.
These are successful performances impressive for Tarasova's sense of flow and colour as well as for the mercurial fantasy and power of Likhopoi.
MusicWeb, February 2003