Overture to Colas Breugnon, Op. 24
b. St. Petersburg, Russia / December 30, 1904; d. Moscow, Russia / February 14, 1987
Kabalevsky may not have been the most profound composer whom the Soviet Union produced, but his appealing and soundly crafted music provides a welcome foil to the dull, bombastic creations of many of his more ambitious and intellectual contemporaries, Russian or otherwise.
The literary source of his opera Colas Breugnon (1938) was a novel by French author Romain Rolland. The story takes place during the sixteenth century in the village of Clamecy in France. Colas Breugnon, the town’s master sculptor and craftsman, is a free spirit and an incurable optimist. At the opera’s première, the music won praise but the libretto received sharp criticism. Kabalevsky completed a major and successful revision in 1968. During those intervening decades, the score remained in view only through the brightly colored, impish and rhythmically bracing overture, a portrait of the opera’s title character.
Program Notes by Don Anderson © 2017