Critical Notes Series: Kabalevsky's Cello Concerto No. 2

What an amazing work! Hearing just the first and last bars of the piece should inspire the listener to want to hear the entire concerto. The only thing standing in the way of its popularity is the lack of a fast and flashy ending like Prokofiev's Sinfonia and Shostakovich's First. In my opinion, Kabalevsky's Second lacks nothing; it has a memorable themes, tightly constructed form, and plenty of virtuosic passages. It even has a saxophone soloist in the second movement.

In the last 20 years, Kabalevsky's Second has been gaining traction among cellists. Fortunately for us, this work was recorded with the composer at the podium, and the dedicatee as the soloist. As more cellists are playing the work, I would like to bring up a few common errors and alternate readings of some passages. In reality, there are 5 sources to this work: the first edition orchestral score, first edition (1966, commonly the Sikorski edition) for cello and piano, a revised edition (1979) for cello and piano, as well as the recording with the composer and dedicatee. There was a new edition recently engraved by Schirmer.

Below, I list the most common errors and divergences among sources.

First movement

2nd bar of reh. 4 - First edition score: notes 2 and 3 are tied. Shafran plays them tied. 1966 and 1979 solo parts have these separate

2 bars before reh. 6 - Score, 1966 piano reduction (PR), and 1979: notes 2 and 3 are tied. Shafran plays them tied.1966 has these separate.

2 bars before reh. 12 - Score and 1966: notes 3, 4, and 5 are G#, A, and A, respectively. The 1979 and PR correct these to  A, A#, and A#, respectively, to keep the pattern.

3 bars before reh. 13 - Score, PR, and 1966: dotted-half tied to an eighth note. 1979: one double-dotted half (same rhythm)

1 bar before reh. 17, beat 2 - Score: double stop with an added C natural on the bottom. Other sources do not have this note. Shafran does not play it.

1 bar before reh. 17, beat 3 - Score: double stop with an added Cb on the bottom. Other sources do not have this note. Shafran does not play it.

1 bar before reh. 18 - 1966: note 5(Gb) is missing. Fixed in 1979, and present in all other sources.

2 bars before reh. 23 - Score: notes 2 and 3 are tied. Shafran plays them tied. 1966 and 1979 have these separate.

1 bar before reh. 25 - 1966: missing a natural on note 1. Present in all other sources.

Cadenza I

m. 2, beat 4 - Score: bottom note is an Eb. Rest of the sources have a G. Shafran plays a G.

m. 3, beat 4 - Score: middle note is an Eb. Rest of the sources have a G. Shafran plays a G.

m. 4, beat 4 - 1979: middle note is an F. Rest of the sources have an Ab. Shafran plays an F.

m. 12 - 1979: "acceler. e poco a poco cresc." Score: in m. 14. 1966: in m. 13

m. 17, beat 3 and pickup to m. 18, bottom voice - Score and PR: Eb/G. 1966: E nat./Ab. 1979: E nat./G. Shafran plays E flat/G.

m. 27, beat 2: Score and piano reduction: middle note is a G natural. 1966 and 1979: Gb. Shafran plays G natural.

bars 3-4 before reh. 26 - Shafran plays the pizz. passage as arco.

Second movement

1 bar before reh. 32 - Score, PR, and 1966: notes 1 and 2 are slurred. 1979: notes 2 and 3 have a 16th note tremolo on each. Shafran plays 16th note tremolos on all three notes.

4th bar of reh. 68 - 1966: note 3 is a G. All other sources have a B. Shafran plays a B.

Cadenza II

m. 58 - Shafran plays a double stop with an A a 6th below the F. This is not reflected in any other sources.

5th bar of reh. 84 - 1979: grace note open C before note 1. Shafran plays this note. The rest of the sources do not have this note.

Third movement

3rd bar of reh. 89 (NB these bars are divided with a dotted barline) - 1966: notes 16 and 17 are Gb and Eb, respectively. Other sources have Eb and Bb, respectively.

3 bars before reh. 94 - 1966: note 3 is an F#. Other sources have a G. Shafran plays a G.

2nd bar of reh. 94 - 1966: note 8 is a G. Other sources have a F#. Shafran plays a F#.

3rd bar of reh. 94 - 1966 and 1979: notes 16 and 17 are G and E, respectively. Other sources have E and B, respectively.

bar 5 of reh. 98 - Shafran plays a mordent on note 3. This is not reflected in other sources.

bars 1-4 of reh. 100 - Score: the tremolo C with a bass octave. 1966 and PR: bass octave is optional. 1979: bar 1 has no bass octave and bars 2-4 have a bass octave.

5th bar of reh. 103 - 1979: missing the 4/4 time signature change.

6th bar of reh. 103 - 1979: missing the 3/4 time signature change.

5th bar of reh 105 - 1966 and 1979: cresc. hairpin. Shafran plays this hairpin.

bars 6-7 of reh 105 - 1966 and 1979: dim. hairpin. Shafran plays this hairpin.

bars 5-7 of reh. 105 - Score and PR: dim. hairpin.

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