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Dmitri KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
Piano Concerto No. 3 op. 50 (1952) [18:45]
Rhapsody for piano and orchestra on the theme of the song School Years op. 75 (1964) [12:09]
Poem of Struggle for orchestra and chorus op. 12 (1930) [9:09]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Piano Concerto in C sharp minor (1883) [14:06]
Hsin-Ni Liu (piano)
Gnesin Academy Chorus
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitry Yablonsky
rec. Studio 5, Russian State TV & Radio Company KULTURA, Moscow, 10-15 June 2005, 29 November 2006. DDD
NAXOS 8.557794 [54:09]
Experience Classicsonline

Here is an inexpensive collection of three works by Kabalevsky and one by Rimsky-Korsakov. The Kabalevsky Third Piano Concerto, dedicated to Soviet Youth, is well enough known. It is carefree, catchy, neatly romantic and wonderfully memorable. Hsin-Ni Liu despatches its 18:45 in machine-gun exuberance in the outer movements and in delicate pastels in the central Andante. From a dozen years after the Third Concerto comes Kabalevsky's Rhapsody on the theme of the song School Years. It is dedicated to the Young Musicians of the Volga region. Like the much recorded Third Concerto it makes clever, sparkling and playful use of the woodwind.
The short Rimsky-Korsakov Concerto in one movement is pearly and has the tang of Borodin. The recording allows us to hear the key-click mechanisms of the woodwind soloists’ instruments. The performances are spot-on and seem well prepared yet not drilled to death.
Moving away from the concerto aspect of the disc the sequence ends with a final patriotic and dramatic gesture. Kabalevsky's Poem of Struggle takes us back all the way to the 1930s; it is in fact his first major work. The text which appears in the last segment is bloodcurdlingly acquisitive with the international Revolution being taken to Berlin, Dresden, Paris and Warsaw … and then the Far East. It's a fascinating novelty which speaks with the burning, fearsome and ruthless ardour of its Soviet times. The rushing militaristic writing is directly redolent of Myaskovsky's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies: the Red Flag whips in the wind of violent change. The piece is alive with the concatenating strenuous uproar of trumpet fanfares and tramping militia. The choir exude the fervour of the words which are printed in English but not in transliterated Russian.
Short playing time for which you have the compensation of three works for piano and orchestra. Add to this a very rare early Kabalevsky piece from the youthfully aggressive first maturity of the Soviet Union.
Rob Barnett


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