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#2034346 - 02/16/13 05:41 PM William Kapell  
Joined: May 2001
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pianoloverus Online content
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Another thread mentioned this pianist and I listened to some of his recordings and some documentaries about his life. I knew he was considered very great and had heard some of his playing previously.

But I was astonished at some of the quotes from some famous musicians expressing how great they thought he was. Unfortunately I can't find the video with these quotes but one famous pianist(Fleisher?)said something like "Unquestionably the greatest pianist America has ever produced". There were many other quotes from people like Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Lownenthal where the level of praise was astonishing, almost as if they had never heard Kapell's equal.

So my question to those of you who know Kapell better than me is... can you describe what qualities Kapell had that seemed to draw praise on such an astonishing level? One that seems to appear was level of intensity that was astonishing for even great pianists.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/16/13 05:48 PM.
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#2034353 - 02/16/13 06:00 PM Re: William Kapell [Re: pianoloverus]  
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I wouldn't say I know him better. I have an impressive selection of his playing on volume 52 of the Phillip's "Great Pianist" series. It stands out that he doesn't seem to stumble, hiccup, or have any rhythmic irregularity that might indicate he reached any technical limit. If I were Graffman, I wouldn't mind swapping techniques with Kapell. If he had recorded more Liszt, he'd be in regular rotation on my ipod. smile

#2034433 - 02/16/13 08:07 PM Re: William Kapell [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Thracozaag Offline
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"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/
#2034488 - 02/16/13 10:22 PM Re: William Kapell [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Listen to his Chopin B minor sonata.

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#2034514 - 02/16/13 11:32 PM Re: William Kapell [Re: Damon]  
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Originally Posted by Damon
If he had recorded more Liszt, he'd be in regular rotation on my ipod. smile


I assume you've already heard his Mephisto, both live and recorded versions of the 11th rhapsody, 6th rhapsody, and Petrarch 104. A pity he didn't get a chance to play the Sonata.


"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/
#2034540 - 02/17/13 01:33 AM Re: William Kapell [Re: pianoloverus]  
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A combination of seemingly limitness mechanism (which many people call "technique") and great drive with complete control and judicious employment, never for its own sake; great range of dynamic and types of touch, with the ability to switch instantly or modulate at any pace between and among them; a poetic and soulful nature seemingly at all times, even during pyrotechnics, and with a great yearning expressiveness in lyrical passages but always "sincere," without exaggeration or excessive indulgence; and all with flawless and inarguable musicianship and with no touch of eccentricity whatsoever. Some of this may sound similar to Horowitz but I think some of the differences jump out as well. While I don't think he had quite the range of dynamics, touch, and color of Horowitz, neither did he have the eccentricity and the questionable aspects of musicianship, and for both better and perhaps worse he didn't have the exaggeration. I don't think he was 'as unique' as Horowitz, but all things considered he may have been equally great or greater.

Koji: How'd I do? smile

#2034578 - 02/17/13 04:24 AM Re: William Kapell [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Damon Offline
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Originally Posted by Thracozaag
Originally Posted by Damon
If he had recorded more Liszt, he'd be in regular rotation on my ipod. smile


I assume you've already heard his Mephisto, both live and recorded versions of the 11th rhapsody, 6th rhapsody, and Petrarch 104. A pity he didn't get a chance to play the Sonata.


I haven't heard the live version of the 11th rhapsody, but all else yes. I'll see if that is on youtube.

#2034715 - 02/17/13 12:37 PM Re: William Kapell [Re: Mark_C]  
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Thracozaag Offline
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
A combination of seemingly limitness mechanism (which many people call "technique") and great drive with complete control and judicious employment, never for its own sake; great range of dynamic and types of touch, with the ability to switch instantly or modulate at any pace between and among them; a poetic and soulful nature seemingly at all times, even during pyrotechnics, and with a great yearning expressiveness in lyrical passages but always "sincere," without exaggeration or excessive indulgence; and all with flawless and inarguable musicianship and with no touch of eccentricity whatsoever. Some of this may sound similar to Horowitz but I think some of the differences jump out as well. While I don't think he had quite the range of dynamics, touch, and color of Horowitz, neither did he have the eccentricity and the questionable aspects of musicianship, and for both better and perhaps worse he didn't have the exaggeration. I don't think he was 'as unique' as Horowitz, but all things considered he may have been equally great or greater.

Koji: How'd I do? smile


Quite well! thumb


"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/
#2034740 - 02/17/13 01:30 PM Re: William Kapell [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Keith D Kerman Online content
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I cannot imagine Kapell's art being described more perfectly, or by someone more credible. Thanks for the link, I was not aware of that.


Keith D Kerman
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#2035009 - 02/17/13 10:49 PM Re: William Kapell [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Reading that piece by Copland I have two questions: what was the work intended for Kappel, and more importantly, do you think that the perception of a stellar live performance has to do with, in part, the level of communion between the audience and the performer

#2035044 - 02/18/13 12:27 AM Re: William Kapell [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Thracozaag Offline
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It was the Piano Fantasy, premiered by William Masselos in 1957. Kapell was a fierce exponent not only of Copland's music, but also Ruggels, Rorem and other up and coming American composers, which he was in the process of commissioning works from before his early death.


"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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