Kabalevsky: Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 3; Colas Breugnon Overture; The Comedians

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Kabalevsky
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 3; Colas Breugnon Overture; The Comedians
PERFORMER: Kathryn Stott (piano); BBC Philharmonic/Vassily Sinaisky
The slick, high-spirited, childlike character of Dmitri Kabalevsky’s music demands exuberance, but performers can place their approach anywhere between brilliance and nimbleness. Vassily Sinaisky and the BBC Philharmonic tend toward the latter approach. I miss the swagger Kabalevsky’s big tunes can sometimes evoke, and the character in some of the more pompous movements in The Comedians – the March and the Pantomime, for example – seems underdeveloped. Instead, Sinaisky offers a fetching and sparkling light-footedness, although the winds are so recessed into the sonic image that the vividness of their articulation is lost.


Kathryn Stott plays with considerable heat and brilliance in the Second Piano Concerto, and there is much to enjoy in her account of the Third as well, although here her fingery passagework and hypersensitive phrasing can seem just a bit precious. In the slow movements of both concertos Stott aims for breathtaking stillness; not everyone will feel that Kabalevsky’s music demands such intense inwardness. The composer’s own account of the Third, with Emil Gilels as soloist (Olympia), finds parody in the excessive repetition and gradual accelerando of the big tune in the slow movement. This is the sort of touch that seems more central to the fundamental nature of these works. David Breckbill