Eiji Oue

Kabalevsky: Symphonies Nos. 1-4

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To the extent that Dmitry Kabalevsky has been viewed as the Soviet composer par excellence, his reputation has suffered in the west, especially since the end of the Cold War. Certainly, some of his less politically rewarded contemporaries have risen to greater prominence in the same period, and this demonstrates a shift in public opinion, from favoring the tuneful and conservative music of Kabalevsky to exploring the deeper, agonized expressions of such artists as Dmitry Shostakovich and Mieczyslaw Weinberg. Particularly in the realm of the symphony, Kabalevsky's four symphonies are far less significant than Shostakovich's fifteen or Weinberg's twenty five, which reflect in their troubled music much of what was wrong in the Soviet Union, while Kabalevsky's adhere to the party line and portray a heroic Russian populism that rings false today. This is not to say that Kabalevsky's symphonies are bad music, for they are constructed quite well in the expansive, late Romantic style, and anyone who appreciates highly melodic music in the tradition of Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov will find these works easy to appreciate. Indeed, the lively performances of Eiji Oue and the NDR Radio Philharmonic convey their excitement over these rarely recorded works, and their muscular energy makes them worth hearing, even though they are among the shallowest of twentieth century symphonies and of primary interest to students of Russian history. CPO's sound quality is excellent, so the performances come across with natural orchestral colors and resonance.

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