William Kapell ? Unissued Broadcasts
William Kapell, a brilliant and successful
pianist by his early 20s, dead in a plane crash at the age of 31, has long
since entered into musical folklore. A generation of music lovers has grown
up with the legend of young Kapell?the superb technician who produced flamboyantly
extroverted performances of 20th century Russian piano music
by Rachmaninoff, Khachaturian and Prokofiev, yet who was also capable of
intimate, exquisitely honed renditions of works by Chopin, Mozart, Schubert,
Beethoven and J.S. Bach; the indefatigable worker renowned among peers for
his extended practice sessions; the darkly handsome man with the movie star
looks and the smoldering intensity. Every new recording permits us a new
vantage point on Kapell, who may have been the finest of all American-born
pianists and whose example helped prepare the way for Van Cliburn, Peter
Serkin, and Richard Goode and the many other "home-grown" artists
who have risen to prominence in the years since his death. The present release
is especially valuable, as it captures a performance of one of his signature
pieces, the Khachaturian Piano Concerto, with his great mentor, Eugene Ormandy.
This concerto has come in for some bad press over the years, but it has
withstood the ravages of time surprisingly well, especially when played
with the giddy, devil-may-care dynamism Kapell brings to it here. But the
prize of this set is the rendition of Rachmaninoff?s Piano Concerto No.
2, featuring Kapell with perhaps the only contemporary who could rival him
for intensity and charisma, the young Leonard Bernstein. Kapell was still
in his 20s, and Bernstein only barely into his 30s, when this recording
was made on 18 February 1951? and it is very much a young man?s recording:
urgent, sweeping, exciting.
CD-1109(1) William Kapell ? Unissued Broadcasts. Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 2 in c for Piano & Orchestra, Op. 18 New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, cond. Leonard Bernstein (18 Feb. 1951). Khachaturian: Concerto in Db for Piano & Orchestra Philadelphia Orchestra, cond. Eugene Ormandy (8 Apr. 1944). Total time: 61:47 017685-11092-4 AAD.
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