Kabalevsky: Piano Sonata No.3, 24 Preludes

Kabalevsky: Piano Sonata No.3, 24 Preludes
Composer Dmitri Borisovich Kabalevsky
Artist Pietro Bonfilio piano
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 95256
EAN code 5028421952567
Release June 2017

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About this release

Once considered in the same breath as Prokofiev and Shostakovich, Kabalevsky’s star has waned somewhat (the same fate has befallen both Myaskovsky and Khachaturian), both in his native Russia and farther West, where he is primarily remembered for his exuberant orchestral potboiler, the overture he wrote to an opera on a Romain Rolland story, Colas Breugnon. The opera won both a Lenin Prize and Rolland’s approval – no small feat – but has been completely forgotten. However, the offbeat rhythms that made the overture an instant hit also lend an upbeat, funky character to the opening movement of the Third Piano Sonata.

Kabalevsky wrote the sonata in 1948, shortly after the premiere of another opera, Taras and his Family, based on the same gory narrative which inspired Janáček’s orchestral fantasy, Taras Bulba. ‘Excellent music (much Prokofiev),’ wrote Myaskovsky in his diary, ‘but the libretto is dreadful.’ The composer may have taken note, for although the opera was not revived, he used several of its themes in the sonata. Sweet playfulness and calm characterize the first theme, the gliding movement of the waltz in the second, and a spirit of youthful fanfare in the finale.

The 24 Preludes were composed in 1943 and dedicated to Myaskovsky. Kabalevsky had lately (like Shostakovich) been in siege-ridden Leningrad, and the wartime mood may have contributed to the patriotic flavour of the Preludes: each one uses a theme from folk-music collections of Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev and Liadov. Their first performer was the Russian virtuoso Yakov Flier, who was sufficiently convinced of their merits to include them in his international tours. ‘They are not mere transcriptions of the songs’, he declared, ‘but new, original works of great cohesion, a cycle in which each part has a meaning of its own. Each Prelude expresses a particular mood and significance… It is one of Kabalevsky’s most profound and successful works.’
Compared to works of political expediency such as the Song of the Party Membership Card from 1956, Flier was doubtless right.

During his lifetime Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987) was considered by the authorities to be one of the Top 5 composers of Russia, on a par with Prokofiev and Shostakovich. He was praised for his formalism, general popular style and patriotism. He was not a revolutionary, and this caused his fame to decline after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His music however has a strong identity, vigorous, alternating power with lyricism, and rooted in the rich folklore of Russia.
This new recording contains his effervescent 3rd Piano Sonata and the complete 24 Preludes Op. 38, written during World War II, each based on a Russian folk song, presenting a wide variety of moods, from the pensive melancholy to fiery passion.
Played by the highly talented young Italian pianist Pietro Bonfilio, who expresses his love for the Russian culture with this beautiful recording.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Piano Sonata No. 3 in F Major, Op. 46: I. Allegro con moto
  2. Piano Sonata No. 3 in F Major, Op. 46: II. Andante cantabile
  3. Piano Sonata No. 3 in F Major, Op. 46: III. Allegro giocoso
  4. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: I. Andantino in C Major
  5. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: II. Scherzando in A Minor
  6. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: III. Vivace leggiero in G Major
  7. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: IV. Andantino in E Minor
  8. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: V. Andante sostenuto in D Major
  9. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: VI. Allegro molto in B Minor
  10. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: VII. Moderato e tranquillo in A Major
  11. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: VIII. Andante non troppo. Semplice e cantando –Poco Agitato – Tempo I in F-Sharp Minor
  12. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: IX. Allegretto scherzando –Poco più mosso in E Major
  13. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: X. Non troppo allegro ma agitato. Recitando, rubato – Largo –Come prima – Largo in C-Sharp Minor
  14. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XI. Vivace scherzando in B Major
  15. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XII. Adagio in G-Sharp Minor
  16. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XIII. Allegro non troppo in F-Sharp Major
  17. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XIV. Prestissimo possibile in E-Flat Minor
  18. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XV. Allegretto marcato in D-Flat Major
  19. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XVI. Allegro tenebroso in B-Flat Minor
  20. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XVII. Andantino tranquillo in A-Flat Major
  21. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XVIII. Largamente con gravita in F Minor
  22. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: IXX. Allegretto in E-Flat Major
  23. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XX. Andantino semplice in C Minor
  24. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XXI. Festivamente. Non troppo allegro in B-Flat Major
  25. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XXII. Scherzando. Non troppo allegro in G Minor
  26. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XXIII. Andante sostenuto in F Major
  27. 24 Preludes, Op. 38: XXIV. Allegro feroce – Meno mosso. Marciale. – Pochissimo più mosso – Poco meno mosso in D Minor