Darrell Ang / Malmö Symphony Orchestra

Kabalevsky: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2

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Dmitri Kabalevsky earned a bad reputation in the West for coming through Stalin's cultural purges unscathed, while Shostakovich and others suffered. However, he remains known for the overture to Colas Breugnon, Op. 24, which was effectively championed by Arturo Toscanini, and a few other pieces. The Colas Breugnon overture serves as a curtain raiser here, but the main attractions are Kabalevsky's first two symphonies (of an eventual four). Written in the 1930s, they have nothing like the menacing edge of Shostakovich's music of this period, but they are well crafted and often a lot of fun. Sample the Prestissimo scherzando finale of the Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 19. This whole work has a cinematic quality that, even though it was like the stuff Shostakovich tossed off to get himself back into the good graces of the government, is undeniably evocative and effective. A lot of the credit goes to conductor Darrell Ang, leading Sweden's Malmö Symphony orchestra; he keeps things moving and avoids any tendency toward bombast. Recommended.

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