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Teachers know Kabalevsky’s Sonatinas and short pieces for beginners; Horowitz, no less, used to play the Prokofiev-saturated Third Sonata. What are these practically unknown concertos like?

Both musically and politically, Kabalevsky (1904-87) was a magpie, his soundworld recalling not just Prokofiev but Glazunov, Shostakovich and Rachmaninov too. He composed in the era of The Terror, and it was only by adroit ducking and diving that he – almost uniquely among Soviet composers – avoided Stalinist censure.

The first two concertos (1928 and 1935) recycle the Romantic Grand Manner at satisfying length (32 and 24 minutes). The Third (1952), deliberately written – like the better-known C major Violin Concerto, Op 48 – for youngsters, invites comparison with Shostakovich’s Second. The much later Fourth Concerto (1979), scored for strings and percussion, is concise and comparatively austere; the post-Stalin (1957) Rhapsody is based on a propaganda song praising Soviet childhood.

The Schubert is a curiosity, emulating the Lisztified ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy in creating a piano and orchestra work from a piano-only original. Kabalevsky’s effort does not really convince, despite near-incessant solo piano figuration and an interpolated cadenza. But the other performances are excellent, though Michael Korstick’s barnstorming enthusiasm occasionally takes him the odd millisecond ahead of the orchestra.

MICHAEL ROUND Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing