Kabalevsky: Piano Sonatas No. 2; Piano Sonata No. 3; 24 Preludes, Op. 38

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COMPOSERS: Kabalevsky
WORKS: Piano Sonatas No. 2; Piano Sonata No. 3; 24 Preludes, Op. 38
PERFORMER: Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 6142 (distr. One for You)
Kabalevsky’s music, as compared with Prokofiev’s and Shostakovich’s, remains relatively unknown, perhaps especially where the piano is concerned. With the possible exception of one or two charming and clever pieces for children, it’s unlikely that the average music lover outside the ex-Soviet orbit could name a single one of his piano works. For this, of course, pianists themselves, with recording companies as accessories before and after the fact, are principally to blame. This excellent release is therefore a particularly welcome addition to the catalogue. Schmitt-Leonardy was until now completely unknown to me, but he is a very fine pianist indeed – a natural though never self-indulgent lyricist, a virtuoso to the Russian manner born, but with a Classicist’s sense of proportion, a multi-hued tonal palette which abjures only the ugly, and a propulsive rhythmic vocabulary which keeps you listening every note of the way. The recorded sound, too, is very fine. And the music? Charming, entertaining, atmospheric, superbly crafted, pianistically idiomatic at every turn (Kabalevsky studied the piano with the legendary Alexander Goldenweiser) and often highly dramatic, while never attaining or indeed striving for any great depth, it resembles Prokofiev at his most approachable and least abrasive. A splendid release. Jeremy Siepmann