Two rare live performances by the legendary William Kapell (1922-1953) are contained on the present disk. As critic Tim Page points out in his liner notes: "It is poignant to speak of 'early,' 'middle' and 'late' periods in a career that lasted only a dozen years. But there was a marked change in Kapell's playing over time and we can hear it reflected in these interpretations. The Prokofiev Third, with the Philharmonic under Leopold Stokowski, comes from a Carnegie Hall concert on Feb. 20, 1949 and should perhaps be counted as 'middle Kapell.' This is probably the finest performance of the concerto that Kapell left us and it is much preferable, in its spontaneity and poetic fury, to the curiously tame RCA Victor recording he had made a month earlier with Antal Dorati and the Dallas Symphony. Here is the pianist as Superman — aggressive, powerful, delighting in his own potency — accompanied by the eternally fascinating Stokowski. "The Brahms concerto is the last major work with orchestra that Kapell played in New York, slightly more than six months before he died. Here again, we have the Philharmonic (this time under Dmitri Mitropoulos on April 12, 1953) recorded in the luscious acoustics of the old Carnegie Hall. While there is still a good deal of brilliance in the playing — listen to the ferocity with which Kapell attacks passages of exposed octaves — there is also a welcome poise and serenity in softer passages and an abiding sense of formal structure throughout."
"While these two live broadcast performances have appeared before, they never sounded as well as they do in Music & Art's splendid new transfers. [Kapell's performance of the Prokofiev 3rd] boasts a tigerish vivacity and rhythmic ebullience absent from the pianist's studio version a month earlier… "
International Piano Quarterly: Winter 1997: Jed Distler
"…momentum and freewheeling pianism… …an indispensable issue… …a fiery, passionate 1953 Brahms D Minor Concerto…" The Absolute Sound: January, 1999: Dan Davis
"?the excitement is virtually palpable; performances of such hell-fire are inconceivable in the recording studio.
Gramophone: December 1997: Bryce Morrison
?the Prokofiev performance makes this a must-have for Kapell acolytes and all fans of flaming pianistic virtuosity? "
Fanfare: March/April 1998: Lawrence A. Johnson
"The feel of profundity in the Brahms performance approaches the religious, greatly aided by Mitropoulos' obvious reverence for the score. And the Prokofiev has more dash and much more fire than the curiously bland version Kapell recorded for RCA with Dorati. "
In Tune: January/February, 1998: Heuwell Tircuit
"This is the stuff that cults are made of".
MDC Classical Express: November 1997: Michael Tanner
CD-4990(1) KAPELL PLAYS BRAHMS AND PROKOFIEV: BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15 in d, with Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, cond. Dimitri Mitropoulos (12 April 1953, New York); and PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 26, in C, with Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, cond. Leopold Stokowski (5 March 1949, New York). Total time: 72:08. (AAD) UPC # 0-17685-49902-9.