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In the Forum: Musical Discussions
In the Thread: William Kapell legacy and patting behavior.
Post Subject: Keeping in Touch With the Inner James DeanPosted by Paul S on: 1/11/2009
I listened today to RCA LM2588, 1962, which turned out to be a rarity: a not-so-well-engineered shaded dog.  This album is re-dubs of studio recordings made from 1944 - 1953  (right before Kapell's death).  Serge Koussevitzky conducts the BSO for  Khachaturian's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Fritz Reiner conducts the Robin Hood Dell Orchestra for Rachmaninoff's 18th variation from Rhapsody on a Theme of Pagannini; Kapell solos on Albeniz's Evocation and Listz's Mephisto Waltz.

All of these works can serve to show off pianism, per se; lots of fast, wide runs and difficult bridges.  But I have to say that Kapell doesn't really seem to me to fall into the showiness.  I find his timing to be very poetic, and his dynamics are also wide enough without being there just to be there.  He certainly hits all the notes cleanly and his expression does not seem to get swamped by technical concerns.  I find all of the works to be musically interesting and the conductors and the orchestras do well enough.

It took me a while to hear what Romy was talking about with respect to touch, because K's notes are pretty incisive.  Still, there is something going on that sounds like he sort of pokes at the keys and lets them fly away rather than pressing them all the way down.  He generally hits hard enough to get good register, and his two-footed pedaling works to keep things sounding clean rather than re-bound-y or too string-y, albeit his Steinway (?) did sound somewhat like a small Bosendorfer in that regard.

Taking everything into consideration, I have to say he's "good", all right; but it was hard to hear things the same once I noticed the "poking" thing.

Overall, I would dub Kapell the James Dean of pianists.

Paul S

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