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Kapell Rediscovered: The Australian Broadcasts
     

Kapell Rediscovered: The Australian Broadcasts

by William Kapell
 
It was on the return trip from a tour to Australia that pianist William Kapell's plane crashed outside of San Francisco. Dashing, handsome, and with a pompadour that would make James Dean envious, Kapell was groomed by his handlers as a classical music glamour boy, although from a purely artistic standpoint he was thoroughly serious. In retrospect, Kapell likewise

Overview

It was on the return trip from a tour to Australia that pianist William Kapell's plane crashed outside of San Francisco. Dashing, handsome, and with a pompadour that would make James Dean envious, Kapell was groomed by his handlers as a classical music glamour boy, although from a purely artistic standpoint he was thoroughly serious. In retrospect, Kapell likewise shares with Dean a life cut short and a concurrent status as a legend, though not every legend produces a body of work consistently worthy of such footing. There are almost no dead spots in Kapell's slim but instructive discography. In a way, this hard-working pianist had no time to produce bad recordings, although there is the inevitable wonderment about what Kapell might have done had fate allowed him to mature past his 31 young years. With RCA Red Seal's Kapell Rediscovered: The Australian Broadcasts, such wonderment may well be satisfied, as these recordings reveal that in the final months of his life, Kapell was making something of an artistic breakthrough. His intense and dynamic playing matures in a way that is striking, even for Kapell. Fortunately, he lived in a time when television was not quite king, radio broadcasts of classical music concerts were common, and hobbyists enthusiastically recorded such broadcasts for their own amusement on home disc-cutting machines. These broadcasts, made between July and October 1953 and literally representing some the last playing Kapell did in public, were captured in just such a way. Although certain individual items, such as the Rachmaninoff "Piano Concerto No. 3" and the Mussorgsky "Pictures at an Exhibition," were previously known and circulated to a small extent, Kapell Rediscovered recovers the full extent of Kapell's Australian broadcasts and puts them in the same place for the first time. It also introduces Kapell's interpretations of works such as Debussy's "Suite bergamasque," and presents the whole in the best sound possible. In terms of sound, Kapell Rediscovered is certainly not for the general public; while most of it is easily tolerable, there are numerous interferences -- crispy surfaces; a stray, distant radio voice yammering its way through Kapell's only reading of "Clair de Lune"; distortion; and other vagaries endemic to home recordings made on radio sets. You have been warned, though ears skilled in listening to historical recordings -- and many of Kapell's most die-hard fans come well equipped in such measure -- will not have any trouble picking the player out of the noise. There is occasional patching from other recordings to cover gaps, and this can be momentarily distracting, though is necessary in order to deliver a complete performance. Nevertheless, RCA Red Seal's Kapell Rediscovered is a first-class job of restoration, and in a sense, it is for the Kapell collector that has everything -- and RCA's 1998 Kapell Edition is practically everything -- yet this is far better a historical set than such a cliché would imply.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Anthony Tommasini
Containing 150 minutes of music, [the collection] adds immeasurably to the Kapell legacy.... The Australian recordings show the results of Kapell’s growing maturity.... Kapell plays with infectious spontaneity and formidable virtuosity.
Gramophone - Jeremy Nicholas
This is the playing of a sublimely gifted artist... Kapell's ability to see the big picture, his blazing intensity and wonderful control are heard at their best.
Philadelphia Inquirer - David Patrick Stearns
1/2 The recordings leave no doubt that Kapell was the greatest American pianist of his generation, maybe any generation.
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Donald Rosenberg
Listen through the noise, and you'll hear a magisterial musician who likely would have become even more towering. Kapell's phrasing, coloring and wizardly technique combine here in cherishable performances that blend stylistic truth with artistic daring. [Grade: A]

Product Details

Release Date:
05/06/2008
Label:
Rca
UPC:
0828766856026
catalogNumber:
68560
Rank:
272647

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30

    1. Allegro ma non tanto  (15:12)
    2. Intermezzo: Adagio  (11:01)
    3. Finale: Alla breve  (12:17)
  2. Suite for keyboard in A minor, BWV 818 (BC L25)

    1. Allemande  (02:34)
    2. Courante  (01:22)
    3. Sarabandes 1 & 2  (03:48)
    4. Gigue  (01:20)
  3. Pictures at an Exhibition (Kartinki s vïstavski), for piano

    1. Promenade  (01:36)
    2. The Gnome  (02:26)
    3. Promenade  (00:55)
    4. Il Vecchio Castello (The Old Castle)  (03:59)
    5. Promenade  (00:32)
    6. Tuileries  (00:52)
    7. Bydlo  (02:38)
    8. Promenade  (00:47)
    9. Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks  (01:07)
    10. Samuel Goldenberg & Schmuyle  (02:04)
    11. Promenade  (01:32)
    12. Limoges - The Market  (01:14)
    13. Catacombs (Sepulchrum Romanum)  (01:31)
    14. Con Mortuis in Lingua Morta  (01:47)
    15. The Hut on Fowl's Legs  (03:07)
    16. The Great Gate at Kiev  (04:23)

Disc 2

  1. God save the Queen  (00:55)
  2. Piano Sonata No. 16 in B flat major, K. 570

    1. Allegro  (05:45)
    2. Adagio  (06:57)
    3. Allegretto  (03:44)
  3. Suite bergamasque, for piano, L. 75

    1. Prelude  (03:43)
    2. Menuet  (03:43)
    3. Clair de Lune  (03:48)
    4. Passepied  (03:25)
  4. Barcarolle for piano in F sharp major, Op. 60, CT. 6  (08:39)
  5. Nocturne for piano No. 16 in E flat major, Op. 55/2, CT. 123  (05:05)
  6. Scherzo for piano No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20, CT. 197  (08:41)
  7. Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major ("War Sonata 2/Stalingrad"), Op. 83

    1. Allegro inquieto; Andantino  (08:23)
    2. Andante caloroso  (05:52)
    3. Precipitato  (03:17)

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