Dmitri Kabalevsky: Cello Concertos 1 & 2; Colas Breugnon Suite / Torleif Thedéen, cello

This new album is the third in cpo’s survey of Kabalevsky’s orchestral works. The NDR RadioPhilharmonie has performed on each, and its the second conducted by Japanese conductor Eiji Oue. On this recording, we hear Kabalevsky’s Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, magnificently performed by cellist Torleif Thedéen, and the ‘Colas Breugnon’ Suite, Op. 24a (for this work, Adrian Prabava conducts). If you’ve been following it, you’ll likely need little encouragement to pick up this latest release in the series, one that reveals the serious side of a composer best known for his lighter fare.

Kabalevsky’s largest areas of output were his solo piano pieces, songs and choral works. Still, what he produced for orchestra is considerable. In addition to his four numbered symphonies and a dozen or so symphonic poems, overtures and suites, the other major area of Kabalevsky’s orchestral oeuvre is the concerto. Having worked on a variety of cinematic and theatrical projects, in much of his music he treads on the decidedly conservative side among 20th century Russian composers. The concluding work on the program is in this vein. The two concertos however bear closer scrutiny. The earlier one was completed in 1949 and the second in 1964. While they are quite similar in terms of tonality, right from the opening measures of Cello Concerto No. 2, you can hear it is characteristically quite different from the First Concerto – enigmatic, dark and mysterious. The program concludes with the tuneful and sweeping “Colas Breugnon” Suite. There’s an interesting blend of influences to be heard here, from Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov to Prokofiev and Shostakovich.

This music is definitely worth seeking out, but it’s the performances that knock the recording out of the ballpark. Cello soloist Torleif Thedéen’s gorgeous playing leaves nothing to be desired, and the performances by the NDR Radio Philharmonic are impeccable.

Album Overview

Dmitry Kabalevsky stands alongside Shostakovich and Prokofiev as one of the most important Soviet composers, but regrettably his works are neglected today. His natural talent for catchy tunes, clear structures and audience-pleasing rhythms helped him to write music that even at first hearing is “easy on the ear” while standing up to critical analysis. It is beautifully crafted, eminently accessible music, full of wit and charm. The Swedish cellist Torleif Thedeen is a wonderful find for our new release.


Dmitri Kabalevsky

Kabalevsky (December 1904 – 14 February 1987) was a Russiancomposer.

He helped to set up the Union of Soviet Composers in Moscow and remained one of its leading figures. He was a prolific composer of piano music and chamber music; many of his piano works have been performed by Vladimir Horowitz.

Perhaps Kabalevsky’s most important contribution to the world of music-making is his consistent efforts to connect children to music. Not only did he write music specifically directed at bridging the gap between children’s technical skills and adult aesthetics, but during his lifetime he set up a pilot program of music education in twenty-five Soviet schools.

Torleif Thedéen

Thedéen, born November 17, 1962 is a Swedish cellist, and Professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen since 1992. He gained international recognition in 1985 when he won three of the world’s most prestigious cello competitions. Thedéen works regularly with the world’s top orchestras and conductors. Torleif Thedéen is also a chamber musician and appearing on stages such as the Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, and the Concertgebouwin Amsterdam.

Thedéen was elected in 2002 as Member of the Royal Academy of Music .éen

Eiji Oue

Eiji Oue is a Japanese conductor.  He has been the music director of the: Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra (1982-1989), Erie Philharmonic (1990-1995), Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra (1995-2002), Grand Teton Music Festival (1997-2003), NDR Radiophilharmonie (1998-2009), Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra (2003-present), Orquestra Simfonica de Barcelona (2006-2010)… and many more.

Following a tour in 1997 with the NDR Philharmonie Hannover, Oue was subsequently appointed its principal conductor in September 1998.

He has been professor for conducting at the Musikhochschule Hannover since 2000.

NDR Radiophilharmonie

Founded in 1950, the roots of the NDR Radio Philharmonic reach back to the 20s of the last century, when Hanover’s first radio station went into operation. For the special requirements of broadcasting out of the orchestra developed a very complex profile. Not only the classical-romantic repertoire of symphonic masterpieces, the Old Music, ambitious, intelligent crossover projects and the wide field of film music, the latter also in the context of national and international theater productions, occupy a central place in the artistic work.


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