The more I hear of Dmitry Kabalevsky's music, the more I am persuaded that he is one of the most interesting composers of the 20th century. In spite of his participation in the Stalinist musical bureaucracy and his acquiescence in their dogmatic stupidities, his compositions are never meretricious; they are expressive, deeply felt, and invariably well-written. The two cello concertos on this disc are a case in point. The first, written for students, has a certain amount of virtuoso display but is mainly sunny and lyrical. The second, in which the three movements are bridged by moving cadenzas for solo cello, opens with a somber and mysterious theme and then becomes agitated; the second movement is full of strong, propulsive rhythms, and the third begins and ends in a plaintive mood with an impassioned central section. Both are pieces for cello with lightly-scored orchestral accompaniment rather than conventional concertos, in which the solo instrument engages in conversation and competition with the orchestra. The "Spring" suite is a charming, lyrical waltz.
Alexander Rudin has a rather small and somewhat whiny tone but he is skillful and eloquent and the orchestra is adequate. Although neither has quite as much energy as the music seems to require, their performance is effective and enjoyable.
Copyright © 1999, Alexander J. Morin