At the beginning of his booklet notes, Christophe Deluze makes
an eloquent plea for reappraisal of the works of Kabalevsky. He
is known to many, surely, exclusively through the rather poppy
overture to Colas Breugnon. The Op. 38 set of Preludes
is a great cycle, arranged in the manner of Chopin: in circle
of fifths order: C/a; G/e and so on.
studied at the Neuchâtel Conservatory and then at the Guildhall.
His biography states he has worked with Lipatti and Cherkassky
as well as with Dagobert Bucholz in Vienna. Bucholz knew many
eminent Soviet musicians and influenced Deluze in his choice
of repertoire. Previously, he has recorded piano works by
Cui for Pavane (ADW7494).
the characteristic bitter-sweetness of the first Prelude well,
but immediately one becomes aware that the recording is a
little on the boomy side. He is less scherzando than pretend-rustic
for the second Prelude (actually marked “scherzando”). The
continuous right-hand semiquavers of the third sound rather
meek. The slower fourth serves to point up the deficiencies
in piano sound, and it becomes clear that Deluze’s attacks
really are being robbed of their effect by the microphone.
The equally slow fifth serves to accentuate Deluze’s rather
stolid phrasing. If he carries off the lyrical, beautiful
No. 8 (F sharp minor) well, and similarly evokes the spirit
of Mussorgsky in No. 10 (C sharp minor), he seems less happy
in the technical challenges of the rapid No. 14 (E flat minor,
Prestissimo possibile). Certainly it sounds fast, but nowhere
near “as fast as possible”. The frantic final Prelude implies
rather than delivers epic grandeur.
notes consider each Prelude of Op. 38 individually and, largely,
The value here
though, surely, lies in the four Preludes of Op. 5, which
seem to be unavailable elsewhere. The booklet notes point
to the influence of Scriabin and someone they refer to as
“Miakvski” – presumably Miaskovky. Deluze changes the published
order, so as to “aline (sic) these Preludes the most
harmoniously possible with Op. 38”. The first three are very
brief (1:20 is the longest) and they almost verge on aphorism.
Deluze is delightful in the A major, Allegro molto.
The final Prelude here, B minor and marked “Moderato quasi
andante. Molto tranquillo” is liquidly beautiful.
Reisenberg recorded a fine account of Op. 38 on Ivory Classics
74002. She fills the rest of her disc with works by Tchaikovsky
and Rachmaninov. Wolfram Schmidt-Leonardy usefully couples
them with Kabalevsky’s Second and Third Sonatas on EBS 6124.
Yakov Flier’s premiere recording of these Preludes (dating
from around 1955, originally on D 03856/7) is available on
a superb APR disc (APR5665)
coupled with his Chopin Second Sonata and some Rachmaninov.
Flier’s account is so stylistically aware, so full of wit,
so very much of the Russian School in touch,
tone and pedalling that it sounds so right and as such remains
unassailable. Flier’s technique is fleet, fluent but granitic
where need be. At 42:39 he is a little quicker than Deluze,
but timings hardly count. Flier’s reading is pure joy and
a hearing of it is surely enough to convince one that Deluze’s
comments on the need for Kabalevskian reappraisal are indeed
summary, unless you are absolutely desperate to hear Kabalevsky’s
Op. 5, invest in Flier on APR.