Kabalevsky Piano Pieces for Children - Young & Old

A prolific composer, Dmitri Borisovich Kabalevsky (1904 - 1987) wrote four piano concerti, three piano sonatas, four symphonies, five operas, a violin concerto, two cello concerti, many songs and other works, including lots of piano pieces for young people. Some of these are programmatic, depicting childhood scenes; others are pedagogic, providing short pieces for the learner. Not all are easy! But they are all inspired and charming, and very playable.

The five sets of variations of Opus 51 (1952), interspersed between other works on this disc, offer technical challenges within a framework of folk-song development. The Soviet music system encouraged composers to use folk melodies, making music accessible: ‘for’ the people and ‘by’ the people. To this end, Kabalevsky took Russian, Ukranian and Slovakian melodies as the themes for these sets of variations.



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Catalogue Number

Five Easy Variations Op.51 No.4 (1952)

1. Seven Good-Humoured Variations on a Ukranian Folksong


2. 'Children's Dreams' Six Pieces for piano Op.88 (1971)

Dreams - Who will win the argument? - Tale of an old organ-grinder - Contrasts - Curious Waltz - Naughty Boys


3. 'From Pioneer Life' Op.14 (1931)

Drummer - Sporting Game - Holiday - Pioneer Song - March

4. Five Easy Variations Op.51 No.1

Five Happy Variations on a Russian Folksong

From Thirty Children's Pieces for piano Op.27 (1937/38)

5. Waltz Time - Ditty - Etude - At Night on the River - Sad Story - Old Dance - Clowning

6. Toccatina - A Little Prank - Scherzo - Lyric Piece - Meadow Dance

7. Sonatina - War Dance - The Tale - Snow Storm

8. Novelette - Dance - Songs of the Cavalry

9. Five Easy Variations Op.51 No.59

Six Variations on a Ukranian Folksong

From Twenty-Four Easy Pieces for piano Op.39

10. Waltz - Folk Dance - Galop - A Sad Story - Clowns

11. Improvisation - A Short Story - Slow Waltz - A Happy Outing

12. Five Easy Variations Op.51 No.2

Merry Dance Variations on a Russian Folksong

13. 'In the Pioneer Camp', 6 pieces for piano Op.3/86 (1927 rev. 1968)

In the Morning - Morning Exercises - On the River - Through Forests and Mountains - Extraordinary Event - By the Campfire

From Thirty-Five Easy Pieces Op.89 (1972/74)

14. First Waltz - Little Hedgehog - Little Goat Limping - The Little Juggler - Chastushka - Stubborn Little Brother - Melody

15. Rabbit Teasing a Bear-Cub - Almost a Waltz - Melancholy Rain


16. Five Easy Variations Op.51 No.3

'Grey Day' Variations on a Slovakian Folksong

Four Rondos for piano Op.60

17. Rondo-March - Rondo-Dance

18. Rondo-Song - Rondo-Toccata


'The Music is consistently inventive and always winningly delivered.' International Piano, November 2014

'Kirsten Johnson's performances are of benchmark quality, particularly in the matter of slight rubatos and musical shadings not written into the music.' International Record Review, December 2014

"What a lovely collection this is...Suffice to say, Kirsten Johnson's pellucid touch and beaming affection give enormous pleasure throughout and she receives a very natural recording from the Nimbus engineers. In a word, delightful." Andrew Achenbach (Classical Ear) September 2014

“Kirsten Johnson clearly believes in the merit of Kabalevsky’s works for piano and these two discs confirm the justification of that view. She plays everything in a committed way that shows her love for the music and her obvious wish to share it with the public. I trust the public will respond accordingly.”  Steve Arloff, musicweb-international.com

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