The most important thing about this release is the pianist In-Ju Bang, a Korean wunderkind who was just fourteen when the CD was recorded. She has everything -- technique, musicality, personality. Unfortunately, the music she plays here is definitely second-rate; it's conservatively pleasant enough, skillfuly constructed but unmemorable. It sounds a little like Prokofiev or Khachaturian, but has fewer memorable melodies, less harmonic piquancy, and dramatic flourishes that sound half-hearted. That's not the pianist's fault, nor that of the orchestra, the Russian Philharmonic under Dmitry Yablonsky, who play with commitment and skill.
Kabalevsky simply didn't have the talent to rise much above the description just given. He is known for his charming 'Comedians Suite' and music from his opera, 'Colas Breugnon', but even that music is rarely heard these days after achieving great popularity fifty years ago. This CD is for Kabalevsky completists, and for those who want to hear the debut of a talented young pianist.