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Mindru Katz Live
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Piano Concerto No.2 in A major S125 (1839 rev 1849-61) [21:18]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor Op.23 (1875 rev 1879 and 1889) [33:30]
Mindru Katz (piano)
Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra/Harold Byrns
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Sergiu Comissiona
rec. Jerusalem, 1961 (Liszt) and Gothenburg, January 1969 (Tchaikovsky)
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD 154 [54:53]

Experience Classicsonline

It’s fortunate that Cembal d’Amour has access to Zoara Katz, because it’s via her that we can now hear a slew of live broadcast material made by Mindru Katz (1925-1978). This fills to a degree the lamentable gap left by Katz’s too-early death.

Here we have two warhorse concertos. The Liszt was taped in Jerusalem, with that city’s Symphony Orchestra conducted by Harold Byrns in 1961. Katz mines considerable poetry from the opening Adagio sostenuto assai and it’s an index of the way in which he means to carry on; poetry allied to digital clarity, careful preparation for ensuing sections, ensemble rapport and a full sense of characterisation. His chording can be taut but marvellously even, and in terms of phraseology, he perfectly captures the ‘agitato’ quality of the Allegro section before relaxing with poetry and finesse into the Andante passage. The Marziale passages call upon Katz’s bravura instincts, which duly realise the dynamism of the writing but note how assuredly he prepares for the penultimate rubato flecked page. The finale is dispatched with authority and control. Is the applause part of the concert? It sounds as if it’s been tacked on at some point.

The companion work could hardly be more of a warhorse than the Tchaikovsky, which was recorded in Gothenburg with that city’s resident orchestra directed by Sergiu Comissiona in 1969. The broadcast quality is much boxier here, though the recording was made nearly a decade later than the Liszt. This dimness is a passing concern because it dampens colour, dynamics and the orchestral recession means that the full array of textures, colours and responses are not being heard. What we do hear however is a rather marvellous performance. Once again, whilst Katz could do bravura – and does – he is as concerned with the poetry of the piece and crucially its architectural properties, all too often glossed over by pianists determined to have a good virtuosic time of it. Unbalancing this work was never going to happen with Katz, and attention, which can sometimes flag after the big first movement, remains constant, embracing the liquid elegance of the slow movement as much as the confident brio of the finale.

Those who have followed Katz thus far in the posthumous sequence devoted to him, will wish to proceed further with this release.

Jonathan Woolf






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