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William Kapell

From Academic Kids

William Kapell (September 20, 1922October 29,1953) was a American pianist.

The critic Harold Schonberg once considered Kapell the most promising American pianist of the post-World War II generation. Unfortunately, Kapell's brilliant career was cut short when he died in a airplane crash at the age of thirty-one. His style was direct, clear, and energetic; his technique impeccable; and his repertoire eclectic and adventurous.

A nine-disc survey on RCA contains Kapell's l Chopin mazurkas and sonatas, and Sergei Rachmaninoff and Aram Khatchaturian concertos. It also has many lesser-known items, some of them first releases, including Shostakovich Preludes, Scarlatti sonatas, and the Copland Piano Sonata. The Chopin Sonata no. 2 is profound, moody, and complex; the mazurkas are brought to life with subtle accents.

VAI 1027 contains broadcast recordings of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 and the Khatchaturian Piano Concerto. Arbiter 108 features part of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 and the Shostakovich Concerto no. 1, and it includes Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, which also appears in the RCA set, as well as on VAI 1048, the last from an Australian recital of 21 July 1953. Of these three, the version on Arbiter (from 1951) is the most colorful and varied, whereas the RCA (1953) is steadier and sustains a dreamlike mood, and the VAI is wild, daring, and free. All three are live recordings, but RCA’s has by far the clearest sound. It is fascinating to hear three such different interpretations of this piece, all recognizably by the same person.

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