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Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, January 2010

I found myself really enjoying these pieces. They’re quite varied in rhythm, melody, and keyboard technique, so that monotony never sets in; and they run the gamut from jaunty and jokey, to minatory, to ingenuously touching.

…Kabalevsky’s Six Preludes and Fugues are nonetheless also quite beautiful and affecting.

Strongly recommended…

David Fanning
Gramophone, November 2009

Alexandre Dossin brings his muscular technique to bear with impressive results

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, November 2009

Here we have all of Kabalevsky’s Preludes and Fugues; if you’ve never heard them, you’re missing out, and this recording is a good introduction…Dossin’s playing is excellent. He does well at bringing out the counter-melodies and emphasizing what’s important.

John Terauds
Toronto Star, September 2009

Alexandre Dossin leaves no stone unturned in his search for nuance in the writing.

Brian Reinhart
MusicWeb International, September 2009

Dmitry Kabalevsky’s 24 Preludes, Op. 38, are a minor masterpiece in twentieth-century piano music. The form itself, a cycle of preludes encompassing every key, has a distinguished history dating back through Chopin, Alkan, Scriabin, Rachmaninov and other great pianist-composers. Kabalevsky’s place in that heritage is both chronologically and stylistically closest to Dmitry Shostakovich, author of twenty-four Preludes, Op. 34. But a more detailed recipe for this music reveals broader influences: begin with the atmospheric miniatures being written by numerous performer-composers at the dawn of the century, stir in the emotional power and mammoth chordal writing of Rachmaninov, mix in a hearty dollop of Shostakovich’s harmonic style, and garnish with a touch—but just a touch—of jazz. If this concoction sounds appetizing, do not hesitate.

The preludes are ordered, as Chopin’s were, around the circle of fifths: the first is in C, the second in A minor, the third in G, and so on. Some are just forty seconds long, and only three preludes pass the three minute mark. The music is consistently tonal and, were it not for the infrequent intrusions of jazz syncopation and style, the cycle could have been composed many years earlier than their true dates of 1943–4. As befits the genre, the set encompasses a wide range of languages and emotions.

The very first prelude is simple, elegant, and perhaps meant to be rather naïve, almost like a children’s tune. The third feels like a modern tribute to Chopin’s etudes; in the middle section of the fourth we can feel the influence of Rachmaninov, the keyboard mimicking the sound of the march. Prelude No. 8, built on a simple left-hand ascending scale, is rather mysterious in mood, while its successor wears a smile; the tenth piece, in contrast to both, plunges into the emotional depths, its chords echoing like sinister bells.

The second half begins with another contrast, between the dark, morose thirteenth prelude and the fourteenth, which is rather amusingly marked “As fast as possible.” (By this point Kabalevsky’s harmonic language is so complex that, although the slow, dark work feels as if it is in minor mode and the following prestissimo feels like a relief, it is in fact No 13 which is in a major key and No 14 which is not.) No 16 is one of my favorites, a menacing but slightly silly drumbeat-like figure with a final coda that is over-the-top. Its successor recalls the simple tune clocks play at the top of the hour, while No 19 is a jovial battleground between classical propriety and jazzy playfulness. The very last prelude, marked Allegro feroce, is indeed ferocious; it favorably compares with some of the most emotionally charged solo works of Rachmaninov, who is quoted at least once in its course (from his Prelude in G sharp minor). This titanic closing work is not a miniature, as many of the others were; it lasts a full four minutes and ensures that Kabalevsky has indeed saved best for last.

The four preludes, op. 5, are rather less interesting, but have the virtue of brevity, and the second of the set is a very good example of the spirit of jazz lingering over the keyboard. Kabalevsky did not, like Shostakovich, compose an additional set of 24 preludes and fugues, but he did write six works in the dual form, collected together as the Op. 61. Each of these has a propagandistic subtitle aimed at pleasing the Soviet authorities, such as “Becoming a Young Pioneer” or “At the Feast of Labour,” but the musical content has no programme. Surprisingly, these Preludes and Fugues are generally tender and lyrical in vein, and the fugues are so pleasantly constructed that they do not sound like fugues at all.

Alexandre Dossin…is a superb pianist, something collectors may already know from his two prior albums. Indeed, he is as convincing an advocate for this music as we can hope for at this time, sculpting the darker preludes in fire and ice…Dossin’s is by far the most affordable set of Kabalevsky’s preludes available, and, as far as my research indicates, is one of just four recordings of the set of twenty-four in 50 years…If the repertoire intrigues you, however, do not hesitate to give this excellent disc a listen.

John Terauds
Toronto Star, August 2009

This Brazilian-born pianist tackles pieces by Russian composer Dmitri Kabalevsky that are on the verge of being forgotten: 28 Preludes, as well as a charming set of six Preludes and Fugues based on children’s songs. Most are gorgeous miniatures that show off the flair of a composer who worked hard to connect kids with music (his pieces even made it on to the syllabus of the Royal Conservatory of Music). Dossin colours the music with delicate, technically deft strokes. There’s not a lot of depth here, but plenty of fleeting beauty.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2009

Like so many who wanted to survive, Dmitry Kabalevsky eventually bowed to the demands of the Communist State and sold himself as a composer of populist music leaving the world to quickly forget the promise of his younger years. Like many around him, he owed much to the influence of Prokofiev, the Four Preludes being short, brittle, and of passing brilliance. They date from his twenty third-year, and sixteen years later, he returned to that format for the Twenty-four Preludes, a score where Chopin and Prokofiev meet in a series of pieces that are intensely lyrical and of showpiece virtuosity. To that he adds the bitter-sweet melodies that was his trademark, and he had the gift of attractive material that readily drills itself into your memory-bank. The Six Preludes and Fugues came much later in 1959, each given a title, that bring a folk-like quality. By then he was going through the motions, and they are without the genuine inspiration he brought to his earlier scores. This is the second in the series of Kabalevsky from the Brazilian-born, Alexandre Dossin, a product of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. and the recipient of numerous international competition awards. He now combines an international concert career with teaching at the University of Oregon, where this disc was recorded. He has an instinctive feel for the music, and shows abundant technical prowess in the fast and dramatic sections. For a sample of that brilliance, try just over half a minute of track 6, the brief second of the Twenty-four Preludes. Crisp and clear sound.

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