KABALEVSKY: Romeo and Juliet • The Comedians • Spring • Overtures

Byelorussian Radio & TV Symphony Orchestra; Lapunov (conductor)
Dmitry Kabalevsky
DRD 2017

The Soviet musical establishment considered Dmitry Kabalevsky a “dream composer,” as his works were bright, straightforward, and often folk-based. His undisputed gifts as a melodist and orchestrator – as well as his musical sincerity – made him one of the most popular of the soviet-era composers.

This appealing Russian Disc re-release offers some of his finest and best-known works, including the symphonic suites Romeo and Juliet and The Comedians, his tone poem The Spring, and the Pathétique and Colas Breugnon overtures. Anatoly Lapunov leads the Byelorussian Radio and Television Orchestra in sturdy, spirited and idiomatically true performances.

The Music:

Romeo and Juliet, Op. 56 (1956) is a symphonic suite drawn from Kabalevsky’s incidental music to a Moscow theater’s production of the Shakespeare play.While reminiscent in places of the drama’s famous treatments by fellow Russians Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, Kabalevsky retains his own distinctive voice in music that faithfully reflects the play’s contrasting moods and emotions, ranging from blissful and lovelorn to tragic and transcendental – with more boisterous scenes and beguiling dance episodes intervening.

The Comedians, Op. 26 (1940) is an original symphonic suite that – in keeping with its title – crackles with infectious energy and headlong, near-slapstick wit and humor, leavened by interludes of softer lyricism and light drama. Shorter and simpler than the preceding pieces, the suite’s ten contrasting movements demonstrate Kabalevsky’s endless gift for charming tunes and sheer musical delight.

    Romeo and Juliet, Op. 56 — Musical Drawings after Shakespeare

  1. Introduction (Enmity and Love)
  2. Morning in Verona
  3. Preparation for the Ball
  4. Procession of the Guests
  5. Merry Dance
  6. Lyric Dance
  7. In Friar Laurence’s Cell
  8. Scene in the Square
  9. Romeo and Juliet
  10. Finale (Death and Reconciliation)
  11. The Comedians, Op. 26 (1940)

  12. Prologue
  13. Gavotte
  14. March
  15. Valse
  16. Pantomime
  17. Intermezzo
  18. Lyric Scene
  19. Gavotte
  20. Scherzo
  21. Epilogue
  22. Overture Pathétique, Op. 64 (1960)
  23. Spring, Op. 65 (1960)
  24. Overture to the Opera Colas Breugnon, Op. 24 (1938)