William Kapell, piano = BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19; SCHUBERT: 8 Waltzes; RACHMANINOV: Cello Sonata in G Minor – Edmund Kurtz, cello NBC Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Goschmann – Naxos

by | Jul 29, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

William Kapell, piano = BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 2 in
B-flat Major, Op. 19; SCHUBERT: 8 Waltzes; RACHMANINOV: Cello Sonata in
G Minor, Op. 19  – Edmund Kurtz, cello NBC Symphony
Orchestra/Vladimir Goschmann

Naxos 8.110767  65:15****:

American piano virtuoso William Kapell (1922-1953) still commands
immense respect and a cult following. Naxos engineer Mark Obert-Thorn
has refurbished the alternately heady and muscular style of the
renowned Horowitz pupil in the work of three composers dear to him:
Beethoven, Schubert, and Rachmaninov.  The 1946 Beethoven and 1947
Rachmaninov works gain a clear luster which the RCA Kapell
retrospective lacks, although each of these inscriptions is included,
and the Beethoven had found its own way to the Philips Great Pianists
of the 20th Century edition.

The performance of the Beethoven B-flat Concerto with Kapell and
Golschmann seems to have been around in one form or another as long as
I have been collecting records. Recorded 24 June 1946 in Carnegie Hall,
the music has gait, passion, and youthful flair. Several commentators
have urged that Artur Schnabel provided Kapell the model for how this
music should go. The performance seems to warm as we proceed, so by the
time we reach the Rondo, the fleet and spirited sense of collaboration
is complete. Golschmann, it  appears, might have been happier in
the recording studio than in concert if his cool reception in the late
1950’s by the Boston Symphony is any indication.

The 1952 Schubert group, taken from the RCA LP (LM 1791) is all charm,
the agogics of the B Minor Waltz and its fellow in E Major providing
limpid Viennese schlogobers for Kapell’s natural affinity for the
lilting style. The German Dance in B-flat, D. 783, No. 6 has the same
confidence and assurance Kapell brings to his Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody
No. 11 in A Minor in the RCA retrospective. For delicacy and subtle
pulsation, try the Waltz in F. The entire sequence ends all too soon.

Edmund Kurtz (1908-2004) remains an under-rated cellist of first rank
whose work with Artur Balsam on CBS ought to command Mr. Obert-Thorn’s
attentions after this release. Kurtz played for Toscanini and
Mitropoulos in the Dvorak Concerto, and private and pirate sources have
restored both collaborations to collectors‚ greedy ears. Kapell and
Kurtz (23-24 April 1947) make elegant work of this often eminently
vocal work – a real song without words, Russian style. I find the
acoustic of RCA’s Studio 2 a bit dry. Still, Kapell was a natural
Rachmaninov player, and his ability to imbue the Russian with the same
majesty of expression one gives to Bach, as in the opening, swinging
figures of the Concerto No. 2 with Steinberg, is still a miracle of the
recording art. No new materials here for Kapell collectors, but the
silver is polished afresh and shines like gold. [And the price is
right…Ed.]

–Gary Lemco
 

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