Author Topic: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)  (Read 16315 times)

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Online vandermolen

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Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« on: May 26, 2009, 06:42:38 AM »
As Colin pointed out some while back there is no thread for this composer - so here goes. In many ways Kabalevsky is seen as a rather flawed and controversial character but some sources indicate that he was condemned with Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Miaskovsky, Shebalin and Popov in 1948 - other sources suggest a rather different and less palatable scenario.

I first came across him when I bought one of those old Melodiya LPs which came in a bare white cardboard sleeve, with no information - it contained Symphony No 4 - a work that I have always felt undervalued. I then discovered his Symphony No 2 on the other side of my Unicorn LP of Miaskovsky's 21st Symphony (David Measham). The work which changed my whole attitude to Kabalevsky's music was his Cello Concerto No 2 in a performance with Daniel Shafram, conducted by Kabalevsky himself (LP - now on CD). This was a much deeper work than anything else I had heard by Kabalevsky ( apart from sections of the 4th symphony). So, if you want just one work by Kabalevsky in your collection I'd heartily recommend Cello Concerto No 2 (there are several CDs) - a work of great eloquence, which made me see Kabalevsky in a different light.

All four symphonies have recently been issued on CD (see below). The turbulent opening movement of Symphony No 1 is very impressive and like Shebalin's first Symphony owes a lot to Miaskovsky (the teacher of them both). Symphony No 3 'Requiem for Lenin' I have, so far, found heavy going (like Kabalevsky's secular Requiem itself) but symphonies 1, 2 and 4 all are worth hearing.


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Offline springrite

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2009, 06:46:26 AM »
The cello concerto is generally considered his best work or, at least, his most popular work anyway. But recently I have been quite taken by his piano sonatas. I have not heard any of his symphonies, however.
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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2009, 07:19:21 AM »
The cello concerto is generally considered his best work or, at least, his most popular work anyway. But recently I have been quite taken by his piano sonatas. I have not heard any of his symphonies, however.

I'm a big fan of his Cello Concerto No. 2 that displays an emotional depth that's rare for Kabalevsky.  Of the few "modern" recordings available, I find the Naxos most compelling because of the strong tension provided by the conductor Igor Golovchin.

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2009, 08:06:38 AM »
Try to find his 2 SQ by the all women Glazunov SQ on an Olympia OOP. The first op.8 is a rather derivative piece, but the second op.44
is a mature and complex work, and a splendid one IMHO.

Offline Guido

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2009, 01:01:01 PM »
I adore the first cello concerto which is as tuneful and lyrical as anything we cellists get - and that second movement is just gorgeous. The second concerto is much darker and to me feels a tad overlong, but it is a high quality work, serious minded, and quite lovely in sections. I always just think of Shostakovich's Second concerto of the same year when I'm listening though, and realise that that piece is just in a different league.
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2009, 03:50:38 PM »
Kabalevsky is an odd case! His music is certainly difficult to dislike. Tuneful, generally jolly and upbeat, often sweetly lyrical, the music sits so easily with the demands of Soviet culture. It seems so hard to imagine that it could have fallen foul of the Zhdanov decree of 1948. He certainly wasn't the odious individual that Khrennikov appears to have been but there does seem to have been some doubt about his artistic integrity. Nor does his music fall into the sort of vulgar excess of which Khachaturian is capable on occasion :)

I agree about both of the cello concertos and I have a soft spot for the violin concerto as well. The symphonies-particularly Nos. 2 and 4 are under-rated. There just isn't much depth or profoundity in Kabalevsky-which is why I compared him unfavourably with Shebalin-but perhaps that is unfair, maybe Kabalevsky wasn't aiming at profoundity but instead wanted simply to provide music that was entertaining, particularly for young people(as in the piano concertos). Comparing Kabalevsky or indeed any contemporary Soviet composer with a towering genius like Shostakovich will always be to their disadvantage....so we should not do so!

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2009, 04:11:37 PM »
I adore the first cello concerto which is as tuneful and lyrical as anything we cellists get - and that second movement is just gorgeous.

Agreed, although I do find the 3rd movement rather flashy with minimal substance. 

Offline Joe_Campbell

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2009, 10:35:38 PM »
Until this point, I was only familiar with Kabalevsky as one of the filler late romantic composers in the RCM repertoire books. As you can imagine, the short character[-free] pieces selected from his (apparently) large output did not inspire me to look further into his music. I'm interested in recommendations of recordings, particularly for his piano music. I'll definitely look into the cello concerto, though.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2009, 12:23:18 AM »
Thanks for very thoughtful replies. I do think that Cello Concerto No 2 is actually a work of great depth - on a different level to anything else I have heard by Kabalevsky but the posts above have encouraged me to look out for the string quartets and other chamber music. I agree with Colin that Shebalin's music generally possesses greater depth but look out for Cello Concerto No 2 and yes, there is a good recording and performance on Naxos. I find the last part of the Concerto very moving - especially in the Shafran/Kabalevsky version.
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Offline springrite

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2009, 12:29:36 AM »
Until this point, I was only familiar with Kabalevsky as one of the filler late romantic composers in the RCM repertoire books. As you can imagine, the short character[-free] pieces selected from his (apparently) large output did not inspire me to look further into his music. I'm interested in recommendations of recordings, particularly for his piano music. I'll definitely look into the cello concerto, though.

The recording I have is from COLLINS, piano music played by Artur Pizarro. Of the three sonatas, the first is an early piece, youthful but otherwise unremarkbale. The second sonata is my favorite of the three, easily matches that of Myaskovsky. The third sonata is the most famous and most often performed of the three, partly because of the memorable folksy themes, I am sure. The filler pieces are nice, too. But when I play this CD I usually only listen to the 2nd and 3rd sonata. 
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Online vandermolen

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2009, 12:56:09 AM »
The recording I have is from COLLINS, piano music played by Artur Pizarro. Of the three sonatas, the first is an early piece, youthful but otherwise unremarkbale. The second sonata is my favorite of the three, easily matches that of Myaskovsky. The third sonata is the most famous and most often performed of the three, partly because of the memorable folksy themes, I am sure. The filler pieces are nice, too. But when I play this CD I usually only listen to the 2nd and 3rd sonata. 

Must look out for these - thanks for info.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

DFO

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2009, 03:20:16 AM »
Abot 2d.and 3d.piano sonatas, nobody can match Horowitz IMO.

Offline Joe_Campbell

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2009, 11:00:47 AM »
Must look out for these - thanks for info.
Seconded. Thanks springrite!

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2010, 05:19:05 AM »
Well, now, I don't know that I would have sought this thread out, had it not been for Gurn's recent post elsewhere.  But now I am curious to hear [clips at least of] the second cello concerto . . . .

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2010, 06:10:56 AM »
Well, now, I don't know that I would have sought this thread out, had it not been for Gurn's recent post elsewhere.  But now I am curious to hear [clips at least of] the second cello concerto . . . .

Well, I will enjoy this thread at leisure and post when I have more to say than that I listened last week to the 2 cello concerti and liked them a lot... :)

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Offline Pierre

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2011, 10:59:01 AM »
Daniil Shafran's recording of the Kabalevsky is available on YouTube - well worth hearing (allowing for moments lifted from Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGO4WITVwaA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUG1a2SzVTc&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pt5NQ5zF9KU&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxT-QStd9Pk&feature=related

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2011, 11:41:58 AM »
Just listened to the cpo recording of the Fourth,after a long gap  & I have to say I'm with Vandermolen on this one. Quite impressive in it's own way. A bit of an eye opener if you're previous experiences of were Kabalevsky were scores like The Comedians,the Colas Breugnon Overture and the noisy,brash but fun Second Symphony. Maybe Kabalevsky was capable of some depth after all? After this it would be nice to sample one of the opera's,which were once available on the Olympia label,I believe (and Melodiya before that,no doubt).

 It would be nice if the same team could have a go at Tikhon Khrennikov's three,especially the Second,which I believe Vandermolen is quite partial to,as well. While I would place Kabalevsky's Fourth a little way above the Khrennikov 2,in terms of general inspiration,there is something about Khrennikov's best music;the tangy harmonies,haunting lyricism,that places him a little above the level of the hack he's generally supposed to be.
 
Please note,I am posting the above,fully aware of the fact that just saying anything good about Kabalevsky,and Khrennikov in particular,is possibly going to attract some negative comments (or boredom!). Lets face it,they were b*******,weren't they! And,no I'm not an admirer of Lev Knippers fourth symphony! ;D (Although,I'd be prepared to give the other Knipper symphonies a go,if they ever get recordings as good as this!)

NB: I think I might dig out the Chandos cds later (although this one's better).
« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 11:57:26 AM by cilgwyn »

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2011, 03:36:40 PM »
Must be in the right mood for Kabalevsky,tonight. I put on one of the Chandos cds of the Piano Concerto's,afterwards & for the first time (I've had the cds for ages) I actually really enjoyed them. Okay,they're not Prokofiev or Rachmaninov,and they filch shamelessly from their superiors,but they have lot's of good tunes,they're excitingly written,and if for some wierd,reason you'd never heard Prokofiev or Rachmaninov,you'd probably think they were pretty good,and in a way they probably are. As Dundonnell said in an earlier post,comparisons are pretty pointless really & if you do enjoy this music,worrying about whether it's derivative just spoils the fun. The third Piano Concerto,in particular, really DOES have a memorable tune,almost like a 'popular' song.

Listening to the cpo set of the symphonies prompted me to buy a s/h copy of the Unicorn cd of his Second symphony,coupled with Myaskovsy's wonderfully enigmatic 21st. I had the Lp when I was a teenager & it got played allot! The cpo recording of the Second is by far the best one I have heard since the Measham recording.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2011, 03:42:07 PM »
Kabalevsky's music is a LOT better than Khrennikov's in my opinion.

But if you are liking Kabalevsky you might try Vadim Salmanov's four symphonies. There is a set with the  Leningrad Phil. under Mravinsky. Fairly basic recording but worth hearing.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2011, 03:43:53 PM »

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