Bought in September 2015.
First listen: 8-10-2015.
Second listen: 16-11-2016.
CD 1 from 2.
Recording dates: 2001.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal des NDR, Landesfunkhauses.
Recording engineer: Bjorn Brigsne.
Running time: 45: 30. Disc 1.
Classical relevance: Worthwhile, especially if you like this composer.
Symphony No. 1 in C sharp major, opus 18.
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, opus 19.
NDR Radiophilharmonie, Eiji Que.
Dmitri Kabalevsky is known for many small things he composed, but hardly anyone knows about his Symphonies. His reputation in the West was smeared with all kind of political horror stories of which no one knows what is the truth and what not. And of course his music was the biggest sufferer in this charade. The question is should we remember this composer? And my answer is a full and heartily meant yes! True he wrote a lot of propaganda music, to the glory of socialism/communism, but always in a tasteful manner. You can separate the composer from the political figure he was in those times, and we should do that, in order to appreciate him fully. Now many will say that his Symphonies, apart from the Fourth, are neither flesh or fish, just pleasant and grotesque utterances of a Bolshevik, but that's so far from the truth, that if becomes ironical, and utter nonsense. It is true that not to many melodies in the first two symphonies will stay afloat in your mind after hearing them, for the notes pass in quick succession without lingering long enough to make some sort of an impression, but they impress nevertheless.They impress because of the melodic creativity, and the masterful scoring for the orchestra. The C sharp major of the first Symphony gives Kabalevsky ample opportunity to play around with slightly going off the key, almost tumbling off. That's quite an eerie sound spectre he gets by doing that. When you think that it is going off into an harmonious end, it slightly wavers the other way. I like that very much. His feel for the right rhythm is quite remarkable. The building up of the score, is a marvel to me.
The second Symphony often derided by critics because of the so called formalism, is despite this unjust conclusion a composition that has a clear leitmotiv, so a begin/middle and a well defined end.
The cohesion is very much on the surface here, and again Kabalevsky makes this into a marvelous tone poem. Its persuasive, genial, friendly and a very pleasant listen, nothing that ruffles your hair, but enough to get a smile on your face.
The sound is almost state of the art. And the performance is as good as one can expect.