C1113. SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY Cond. Boston S.O.: Concerto for Orchestra (Bartók), recorded 1 Dec., 1944 – (World Première; program notes state 30 Dec., 1944 – the date of its NYC re-broadcast); w.WILLIAM KAPELL: Piano Concerto (Khatchaturian), recorded 30 Oct., 1943, first issuance. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-139, (from rare existing copies, albeit with numerous technical flaws) Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Sergey Aleksandrovich Kusevitskii (known in the West by the French spelling of his name, Serge Koussevitzky) one of the great conductors of the twentieth century American orchestral scene and a champion of newer music, closely studied the great conductors he encountered as an orchestra player and at concerts, particularly Arthur Nikisch.
During the difficult years after the 1917 Bolshevik coup and the subsequent civil war, he continued to conduct in Moscow through 1920, when he permanently left for the West. He presented a series of concerts called Concerts Koussevitzky in Paris, again featuring new music: Ravel, Honegger, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev. These concerts included the world premiere of the Ravel orchestration of Mussorgsky's PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION; it soon became a concert staple in both Europe and America.
In 1924, Koussevitsky was chosen as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. With the BSO, he continued his tradition of championing the new music he found around him, thus giving vital exposure to great American composers, such as Copland, Barber, Bernstein, Carter, Hanson, Harris, and a host of others over the years. During the 1931 season, he commissioned a series of commemorative works for the orchestra's fiftieth anniversary, yielding a treasury that included Stravinsky's SYMPHONY OF PSALMS and Ravel's Piano Concerto in G. Beginning in 1935, he annually brought the orchestra to the summer Berkshire Festival, organized by Henry Hadley in 1934, becoming its music director and making it part of the BSO's operation. Koussevitzky established the Berkshire Music Center (now Tanglewood Music Center) in conjunction with the festival in 1940, making it into one of the premier American educational institutions where young musicians could polish their craft and network. After his wife died in 1941, Koussevitsky set up a foundation to commission works in her memory. Britten's opera PETER GRIMES was one of the first works that resulted.
Until his death in 1951, he continued to direct both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Berkshire Festival, recording frequently.
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“William Kapell was one of the most promising American pianists of the postwar generation, producing a few recordings that have attained legendary status after his untimely death.
He studied in New York with Dorothea Anderson la Follett, and then at the Philadelphia Conservatory with Olga Samaroff, and then went to the Juilliard School when she relocated there. He won the Philadelphia Orchestra's youth competition and the Naumberg Award in 1941. He débuted in New York through his prize from the Naumberg Foundation; this début recital won him the Town Hall Award for the outstanding concert of the year by an artist under 30.
A national recital career quickly developed, leading to a recording contract with RCA. One of his enthusiasms was for the recently composed Piano Concerto in D flat major by Soviet composer Aram Khachaturian, which he frequently played. Because it is an extroverted and flashy work, he gained a reputation as a specialist in such music. His recorded legacy shows that he performed in the appropriate style from graceful renditions of Mozart to powerful Prokofiev.
After World War II, he expanded his touring to cover the world. It was on his return from a tour of Australia that his airplane crashed into King's Mountain near San Francisco.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011