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 album, 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.