Korstick’s Kabalevsky

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 8

Say what you will about Dmitri Kabalevsky’s limited creative range; the fact is that he wrote imaginative and effective piano music that deserves more attention than it usually gets. Those who know Michael Korstick’s CPO recordings of this composer’s piano concertos will find the pianist’s survey of the complete Kabalevsky piano preludes just as virtuosic, idiomatic, and colorful.

Granted, Korstick may not match Alexandre Dossin’s tenderness and warmth in lyrical selections, where his sonority tends to turn brittle in loud moments; the ugly, hammered-out Op. 38 No. 24 Prelude is particularly rough going. Yet Korstick compensates by way of rhythmic vivacity and precise fingerwork. Even gnarly bass-register clusters such as those in Op. 24 No. 16 are presented with clarity and transparency. Notice, too, Korstick’s hair-trigger lilt in Op. 5 No. 2’s descending right-hand double notes. His forthright pacing of the Op. 61 “Story of a Hero” Prelude and Fugue contrasts to Dossin’s heavier and arguably more dignified deliberation.

Importantly, Dossin’s “complete” Kabalevsky Preludes survey lacks the composer’s confident and well-crafted Op. 1 group of three, where Korstick’s incisive performances have the edge over Kirsten Johnson on Nimbus. For a modern-day Kabalevsky Preludes collection, get both Korstick and Dossin.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Dossin (Naxos)

    24 Preludes Op. 38; Six Preludes & Fugues Op. 61; Three Preludes Op. 1; Four Preludes Op. 5
  • Michael Korstick (piano)
  • CPO - 555272 2
  • CD

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