Dimitri KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
Piano Sonata No. 1 in F-major Op.6 (1927) [18:22]
Recitative and Rondo, Op. 84 (1969) [7:03]
Piano Sonata No. 2 in E-flat major Op.45 (1945) [24:16]
Four Preludes Op.5 (1927-8) [6:04]
Piano Sonata No. 3 in F-major Op.46 [15:26]
Arthur Pizarro (piano)
rec. no date or venue given
REGIS RRC 1324 [71:02]
Piano music is an important part of Kabalevsky’s output. He wrote for the instrument almost throughout his career. This disc, eminently played by Arthur Pizarro, covers the entire range of his output, from the Preludes of 1928-9 to the Recitative and Rondo of 1969, one of his last piano works.
There are four Preludes in Op.5, the first and third being reminiscent of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. The vivo second is definitely the most attractive of the four, though very short. Most integrated and mature is the allegro molto fourth. Not long after the Preludes, Kabalevesky started on his first Piano Sonata. It is an interesting mixture of what was then considered “controversial” and the composer’s usual, more relaxed style. Notable are the expressive second subject of the allegro and the entire second movement, which has to count as one of the most beautiful inspirations of the composer’s early years. The last movement I found a little disappointing after what had come before.
The Second and Third sonatas were written at the end of World War II and this is reflected in the opening of No. 2, which is by turns heroic, thoughtful and sinister, but all forming a well-integrated whole. The Andante is heartfelt and more profound than is usual in Kabalevsky. The finale starts almost humorously and goes through a wide variety of emotions before a coda that is cleverly based on a descending passage. The vivid Third sonata, which begins in Mozartean style, gradually becomes more rushed and almost hysterical before returning to the opening mood. The songlike andante is lovely, with a contrasting solemn section. The two moods combine at the end. The last movement can only be described as a tour-de-force of pianistic energy, mixing fanfares, typical Russian melody and incredible passagework.
From many years later is Kabalevsky’s Recitative and Rondo Op.84. In the Recitative the composer’s language has become more abstract and more chordal. Quite a contrast to some of the earlier music. The Rondo uses some of the same devices as the Recitative as part of its overall form. It has an ironic cast to it before dying away rather sadly.
Arthur Pizarro’s pianism may not always be exact or even easy to follow, but both his enthusiasm and his ability are astounding. There are moments on this disk when the music is so difficult that one is astounded anyone could play it, much less play it perfectly but he does.
This disc was originally released on Collins 14182 in 1994 and as with many Regis re-releases there is some wow and flutter in the recording, but nothing major. As the only competition is the Dossin [see review] recording on Naxos, this recording is a must for lovers of Soviet piano music.
William Kreindler 

Spectacular pianism in the service of some surprisingly good music.