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  • Vol 4: Concerto / Concerto 3 / 3 Preludes Op 34
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Vol 4: Concerto / Concerto 3 / 3 Preludes Op 34 Original recording remastered

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Product details

  • Audio CD (8 Feb. 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Bmg/RCA Victor
  • ASIN: B000040JED
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,400 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scriabinmahler TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 July 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Kapell's Titanic account of Khachaturian Concerto and Prokofiev Concerto No. 3 beautifully remastered from the original RCA master tape or plate. These two recordings will remain as most daring and super-human playing. Lower sound has slightly more body and range than the famous Naxos remastering. I recommend both RCA and Naxos versions as each has its own advantages.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
in Khachaturian, much that is dazzling and some disputable interpretive choices too 6 Aug. 2009
By Discophage - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The same program was subsequently (in 2001) reissued by Naxos, in transfers by the audio wizard who'd earn the first Nobel Prize of transfers if the category was created, Mark Obert-Thorn, so depending on price you might want to consider that publication: Prokofiev/Khachaturian. It is the one I have, and the audio restoration is great indeed.

I bought it in the context of an thorough comparative listening of Khachaturian's Concerto, and I've published a detailed review under the Naxos entry, which I will summarize here for those intererested in the composition (obviously I can't comment on the quality of RCA's transfers). With Prokofiev's 3rd, Khachaturian's Concerto was a signature piece for Kapell, and this recording with Koussevitzky established something of an interpretive standard - and is still today considered such, sixty+ years after its first publication in 1946 (it was recorded on April 16 of that year. The excellent Naxos liner notes by Jonathan Summers mention that Kapell and Koussevitzky had made an earlier recording, on January 1st of the previous year, but that for reasons unknown it was never released).

And there is indeed, even in view of all the competition that came after, much that is dazzling in this reading, but also a few disputable interpretive options. The most blatant one comes immediately at the beginning, in the way Koussevitzky and Kapell take the opening "allegro maestoso" - at circa 100-104 quarter-notes/minute, much slower that the composer's metronome mark of 108-120, thus giving precedence to the "maestoso" over the "allegro". I'm no radical in abiding by the scores, as long as the interpretive liberties "work". Here, the approach is powerful and majestic indeed, but also dangerously trudging and bombastic, especially when heard against the fiery and headlong dash - at 138, much faster than the composer's indication - of Oborin (the composition's dedicatee and first performer) and Mravinsky (in a live recording made in Prag also in 1946, unfortunately ruled out by dismal sound, Aram Khachaturian: Concertos for Violin & Piano), and of the obscure Czech team of Antonin Jemelik and Alois Klima, recorded in 1960 (Khachaturian: Piano Concerto ; Borkovec :Piano Concerto No 2). They show the benefits of dropping the "maestoso" altogether in favor of a "feroce": gone trudging bombast, enters hair-raising intensity.

That Kapell is capable of exactly that kind of electricity is shown later in the movement, when come the faster passages, which he dashes through at the speed of light: it is electric. Likewise in his finale, which he takes, now (like Jemelik and Klima), much faster than the composer's metronome, 138 against 120-126 - and so much for the better: it is irresistible. And that such electricity is produced at the expense of careful observance of the composer's tempo relationships is of no great matter, since it is so effective that way.

The comment can be extended to the other interpretive liberties taken by Kapell and Koussevitzky, like the adoption in the second movement of a tempo markedly SLOWER than the one indicated by the composer (circa 56 quarter-notes to Khachaturian's 69-72), turning it in the process from an "andante con anima" to a dreamy adagio, or again the phrasing of the first movement's second, folksy theme at 2:36: e.g. markedly slower than the movement's opening tempo (whatever that was), and with no tempo coherence whatsoever when the theme reappers later in the movement and, in slightly modified form, in the second movement. In these various areas, Kapell-Koussevitzky seem to have established something of an interpretive tradition as well: almost every subsequent versions I've heard follows the same options. And (other than the trudging opening tempo) they are effective musically. Nobody without a score is likely to be shocked (and even with it). But the composer's own studio recording with Oborin (sadly, not reissued on CD, but available on U-tube) shows that HIS ways are equally, if not more effective.

Finally, another very disputatble decision of Koussevitzky and RCA is to have omitted the famous flexatone (a kind of musical saw) in the second movement. Was it considered too kitsch, or was there simply none available in Boston in 1946? Anyway, its absence is regrettable. Its kitsch is integral to the music's character. Astoundingly, the composer does the same.

So, yes, this recording certainly has set, in many areas, an interpretive standard. But to claim that it is the only possible view is pure mis-representation. Fortunately, in music, no one interpretation can ever be considered "definitive", and this one, for all its worth, is too far from the composer's intentions and realization to qualify. It is a fascinating view, one everybody genuinely interested in the Concerto should hear, but only one view, and a slanted one at that. In no case can it be taken as the "unique" standard. So if you want a complete understanding of the Concerto, DO "waste your time and money" on more.

(Did I say I was going to summarize? Yeah, well, this is written in August, so I guess you can say I'm summer-izing.)
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Kachaturian Piano Concerto belongs to William Kapell! 26 Oct. 2004
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Please do not waste your time and money searching another other performance of Kachaturian . This is by far , the supreme jewel in the musical universe since its first release in 1945 in vynil .

Kapell simply was far beyond of being inspired , he threw over the concert and literally explored every little detail , you will feel the anxiety , the nostalgia , the delirium , the caucasion moods , the unbetable rage and the most passionated lyricism ever made in this concert .

And despite Koussevitzky with The Boston Symphony makes a great team . This orchestra , gifted with such tonal color , his strings and brass ; cellos and counterbass , winds and metals were simply a real tour de force .

The rapport was inmediat and this recording became in the hitherto of the Kachaturian Piano Concerto .

Believe me I ve heard this work since 1973 and not least than three hundred times . Its frenetic intensity , its febrile majesty and vibrating erotism is absolutely overpowered .

The Prokoviev is very interesting though I find it too fast in the first movement and somehow this hyperkinetism may work out if you do not know for instance the Samson Francois version in which S.F. articulates lyricism and powerful .

But despite this last commentary about the Third , the record is fundamental for you to acquire the essential and more astonishing performance of this Concerto .
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Genius 5 Jun. 2004
By Miles Massicotte - Published on
Format: Audio CD
William Kapell on this CD played with an incomparible fire. Both piano concertos are beautifull pieces and were fully realized on this album as great works of music.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
uncomparable 13 Feb. 2007
By Robert Ryczek - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The bravura, power, strenth, energy, virtuosity of the pianio in Khachaturian concerto is simply unbeliveble. Surprisingly to me, there are also moments full of poetry and nostalgia in second part.
And the orchesta with the Kusewicki - this is really strong support, and - despite the age of the recording - the details are quite well audible (I know Naxos edition, they made wonders!)
Simply amazing!
One of the greatest piano concerto recording I have ever heard (not the same with the concerto). Two great artists inspired to its heights by each other!
To comparision I know only another version of the piece - with Kapell again - the one with Ormady. The orchestra is not as marvelous as Boston.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Khachaturian/Prokofiev concertos 9 Jan. 2007
By A. WERZ - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is one of the the best Khachaturian and Prokofiev recordings ever!

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