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Alan Becker
American Record Guide, January 2017

German born and London based pianist Kusunoki is certainly at one with the composer. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2016

Though born in Azerbaijan in 1931, Murad Kazhlaev’s ethnicity is Lak, one of the tribal peoples of Dagestan, the largest part of the North Caucasian autonomies. Firstly trained as pianist, then becoming a music teacher, he later concentrated on conducting and composing. Treading that difficult path dictated by the Soviet musical authorities, he managed to embrace American jazz, while at the same time meeting the demands for music as diverse as circus numbers and ballets. He later said he had enjoyed a charmed life, for he was often left in peace to compose anything he wished. The present disc covers his music for solo piano written between 1952 and 1973, and revisits the  Rachmaninov era in the Romantic Sonatina where there is also more than a whiff of Chopin, while Prokofiev is lurking in the background. The Dagestan Album contains ten pieces based on folk songs, and was aimed at the commercially popular end of the classics. They were completed in 1973, the harmonic language coming from the middle-of-the-road American pianist-composers of the 1930’s. The first three Preludes date from 1956, the remaining three from 1961, and once again returns to Rachmaninov with a hint of Satie in the central Presto. Finally nine short Picture Pieces composed over the period 1953 to 1971, each one having a title that is depicted in music. The German-born London-based pianist, Chisato Kusunoki, has worked closely with the composer prior to this 2014 recording to ensure it was to his liking. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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