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Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, September 2015

Kuzmin had ability, and each of the three plays brought good things out of him. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2015

History will recall that Mikhail Alexeevich Kuzmin was one of the great Russian poets of the twentieth century, and it will ignore his copious output as a composer. Not that his musical education lacked anything, his two composition mentors being Liadov and Rimsky-Korsakov. Yet it was to be his literary skills that took over, and he was to look towards music as more of a hobby than a career. Working in either side of this dual lifestyle, he was essentially a miniaturist, the present disc containing twenty-two tracks. He seemed particularly happy in the field of incidental music for three plays, The Society of Honoured Bell Ringers, Masquerade and Hinkemann the German. Here he followed in the footsteps of his tutors with colourful cameos to picture scenes on stage, though his harmonic language was very personal and interesting. Maybe an unusual suggestion, but I would advise you to start with the disc’s final work, Hinkemann the German. Composed in 1923, it offers an entry point to Kuzmin’s offshoot of conventional tonality, much of it composed in dance form. With a very smoochy Tango and a quirky March, it is music in the same populist mode that Shostakovich was to adopt a decade later. The one work that is here totally out of context comes with the three Sacred Songs. Pieces that have their roots firmly in the world of Mussorgsky and Borodin. They are not sacred, in the sense that they belong to the church, as they have a sensual beauty of the secular world, the mezzo, Mila Shkirtil, having an ideal tonal warmth for the characterisation of each song. This year the Karelia State Philharmonic—from Northwest Russia—celebrates its 60th birthday, and is here directed by the much experienced Russian conductor, Yuri Serov. We are in the world of Premiere Recordings, and you will discover interesting music. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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