The Soviet composer Dmitri Kabalevsky ( 1904-1987) displayed diverse artistic talent from early childhood but did not pursue a musical career until much later. He studied composition at the Moscow Conservatory under Catoire and Myaskovsky, as well as continuing his piano studies under Gol'denveyzer, and went on to enjoy a highly successful career as composer, teacher and administrator. His many works cover opera, choral, symphonie and vocal music. He had intended for some time to write a song cycle based on Shakespeare sonnets but was daunted by the formidable difficulties of setting texts of such complexity. However, during the years 1953-1955, Kabalevsky finally set ten sonnets, his Opus 52, to Samuil Marshak's translations. The work was given its first performance on 12 April 1955 in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory by the bass Ivan Petrov, accompanied by the composer. The three settings on this album are chosen for their contrasting moods. Sonnet 27
(No 2), is a powerful expression of love which allows the lover no peace, while Sonnet 153
(No 5), with its tripping delicacy, conveys light-heartedly a mood of playful conceit. At the centre of Sonnet 8
(No 7), is a play upon the idea of an all-pervading harmony, which seems an especially appropriate conclusion to this diverse selection.
from notes by Edward Morgan © 2001