is a lovely programme. The Schubert pot-pourri acts as the
perfect bridge between the worlds of Beethoven and Rachmaninov.
1946 sound for the Beethoven makes the orchestra sound very
thin, yet once Kapell enters all is forgiven. There is a
real energy to his playing, coupled with the fact that the
score seems to pose none of the usual obstacles for him.
His fingers regularly perform miracles, as if the concerto
was actually written for him. However, if there is anything
missing it is a sense of play, of sheer enjoyment of life.
listeners may find the slow movement rather 'old-style'
- read self-indulgent - from the orchestra, yet Kapell plays
with a great unaffected simplicity. If there is a disappointment
(slight) it is the finale, happy if not overly dynamic.
Yet even here cascades of semiquavers sparkle like crystal.
separately-tracked Schubert items, in a rather intimate
recording, are a continuous delight. The minor-key items
have just the right mount of nostalgic weight whereas the
first of the two B flat major German Dances is positively
Rachmaninov's Cello Sonata with Efrem Kurtz. Kapell is revealed
as an accompanist par excellence, happy to be in the background
when appropriate. The two players exhibit a real grasp of
the first movement's structure. Perhaps Kurtz is a little
anonymous as soloist. He is much better in the Allegro scherzando
second movement. His cello sound as caught here is plummy
without undue over-emphasis on the low frequencies. There
are moments of great beauty here, too. In fact it is this
very awareness of the nature of musical beauty that informs
the Andante, which flows perfectly. Especially noteworthy
is the wealth of keyboard sonority that Kapell finds. The
finale is quite a varied journey that both players clearly
highly enjoyable disc, thoroughly recommended. All credit
to Mark Obert-Thorn in his transfers - the Beethoven and
Schubert from LP, the Rachmaninov from a set of 45s.
see also Review
by Christopher Howell