Unheard William Kapell concerto

Unheard William Kapell concerto


norman lebrecht

April 10, 2021

With Casals conducting…. One for the ages


  • Greg Bottini says:

    Kapell was the most brilliant of all American pianists.
    This beautiful performance of the Mozart K.453 is more evidence to support that claim.
    And Casals was one of the greatest Mozart conductors of his era.
    This recording is bliss from start to finish.

    • Adista says:

      Nothing against Kapell but if there’s a greater piece of American piano playing than Cliburn’s live Rachmaninoff second sonata from 1960 I’ve never heard it. Cliburn burned out early and a lot of his recordings aren’t impressive, but that performance alone puts him among the greats of the century.

      • Greg Bottini says:

        I admire Cliburn as well, Adista (and that sonata recording too), and I’ve always been sad that his career fizzled out so relatively quickly.
        But listen if you can to Kapell’s live Rachmaninoff Paganini Rhapsody with Rodzinski and the NY Phil recorded in 1945. That kind of playing blows EVERYBODY else out of the water. (WK’s commercially issued version with Reiner is also not chopped liver.)

  • Jean says:

    Kapell is truly one of the greats – what a fine discovery!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Mercurial playing by Kapell from the 1953 Prades Festival in the last year of his short life. He also played a Beethovan sonata with Grumiaux, Mozaart’s E-flat piano quartet. and ten Schubert Lieder with Maria Stader, all reecorded on Music & Arts.

    Many thanks for posting it, Norman; I’d never heard the entire concerto, which wasn’t released commercially at the time, perhaps because of flaws and disruptions at the start of the rondo. Kapell here and there sounds as if he’d like a slightly brisker tempo (not in the rondo). It’s as interesting a performance as those of Bernstein, Edwin Fischer, Rubinstein, and Marc-Andre Hamelin.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Terrific! Many thanks for this, Norman.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    This is sublime. Thank you so much.
    I didn’t see any other Mozart recordings by Kapell on Arkivmusic.

  • Distant Prommer says:

    What an outstanding ‘discovery’. My favorite Mozart concerto in a historical must have performance. Thanks Norman.

    • Edgar Self says:

      68 years after his death at 31, Kapell continues to fascinate as new discoveries appear. Last year Ward Marston published Schumann/s quintet, and RCA has issued a cache of Australian radio and concert recordings. Petros, there are two movements of Mozart’s 11th concerto with Monteux and I think a sonata.

      A rich flowering of American pianism from Kapell and Abbey Simon went on to give us Cliburn, Byron Janis, Fleisher, Graffman, John Browning, and the lesser-known Eugene List, Dalies Frantz, and Ozan Maarsh, whom I saw play, among many others.

      It was also a time of great teachers: Adele Marcus, Serkin, Olga Samaroff, and Rosina Lhevinne.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Add Jerome Lowenthal, Eugene Istomin and Julius Katchen to your distinguished list. Lowenthal and Graffman may be the last surviving members of this great generation.

        • Edgar Self says:

          Excellent additions to the list, Pietros. I admire Istomin’s Bach and Jerome Lowenthal for Taneyev’s piano quintet and Tchaikovsky’s second concerto. Byron Janis is living at 93, and Katchen’s Brahms still warmly admired.

    • Edgar Self says:

      Distant Prommer, how good to see your name and comment here, another survivor from Amazon’s classical music forum. I hope you will not be disappointed in this year’s Proms concerts.

      As Mozart’s 17th is your favourite, I also hope you’know Edwin Fischer’s historic recording of it. — Edgar Self (Piso Mojado)

  • Amos says:

    To hear Kapell is infinitely better sound try the live recording of the Brahms 1st with Mitropoulos/NYPO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeFJ3z3oBs4. If only DM and the NYPO produced more performances like this one; they were either superb together or dreadful.