Beethoven, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky, Bach-Busoni

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COMPOSERS: Bach-Busoni,Beethoven,Mussorgsky,Shostakovich
LABELS: Arbiter
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Kapell in Recital
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor (movements 2 & 3); Piano Concerto No. 1; Pictures at an Exhibition; Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
PERFORMER: William Kapell (piano)Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy, National Orchestral Association/Leon Barzin
CATALOGUE NO: 108 (distr. Complete) ADD mono
Any recording of William Kapell, the American pianistic giant who died tragically in 1953 aged just 31, will be snapped up by collectors of great historical piano recordings. This disc may be invaluable to specialists – it includes a recording of part of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto played by Kapell at the tender age of 14, and also a superbly contrasted choice of works which show many different facets of his musical personality: the wit of the Shostakovich First Concerto, the deep gravitas and purity of the Bach-Busoni chorale prelude and the myriad colours of Mussorgsky’s Pictures. Kapell himself is stunning; the disc is, however, a flawed production in many respects.

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The title is misleading: this is not a recital (in fact, it’s mostly concertos). The sound quality is mostly atrocious – the ‘Catacombs’ episode of the Mussorgsky, for instance, is marred by repetitive roar-like sounds of scratched record, and the Beethoven (just two movements – the first was never recorded) is introduced by a mysterious voice which could surely have been edited out. The Shostakovich fortunately sounds a bit better. Accompanying notes include comments on the recordings from Kapell’s widow and, more illuminating, some extracts of letters from Kapell himself on the nature of artistry. Jessica Duchen