The Art of Segovia (DGG, two CDs). For much of the twentieth century, Andrés Segovia was the world’s best-known guitarist, and his concerts and recordings played a key role in re-establishing the guitar as a classical instrument. Alas, he kept on playing far too long for his own good, and by the time of his death in 1987 at the age of ninety-four, his reputation was in eclipse. This two-disc set, a fabulously well-chosen anthology of Segovia’s greatest hits drawn mainly from the recital albums that he recorded for Decca in the Fifties, provides ample proof that he was every bit as good as his reputation. It contains guitar solos and transcriptions by (among others) Albéniz, Bach, Falla, Rodrigo, Roussel, Scarlatti, Tárrega, Torroba, and Villa-Lobos, all played with the grandly romantic sweep and impeccable technique that he commanded in his prime (TT).
Archives for May 24, 2008
When William Kapell died in a plane crash in 1953 at the age of 31, he was well on the way to becoming an international classical-music celebrity. Instead he was forgotten. It wasn’t until his complete commercial recordings were reissued in a nine-CD box set in 1998 that a new generation of listeners discovered Kapell, and even now the fact that he was America’s greatest native-born pianist is not yet widely recognized.
Earlier this month RCA released a two-CD set of live recordings made by Kapell in Australia a few weeks before he died. The release of Kapell Rediscovered is the occasion for my “Sightings” column in today’s Wall Street Journal, in which I reflect on Kapell’s brief but extraordinary career–and on the reasons why he is so poorly remembered now.
To find out why William Kapell vanished into the cultural memory hole, pick up a copy of Saturday’s Journal, turn to the “Weekend Journal” section, and see what I have to say in “Sightings.” Or read the whole thing here.
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The only known video footage of Kapell’s playing is a kinescope of a TV appearance he made on Omnibus in 1953. Here it is: