Anatole Kitain        (2-Appian APR 7029)
Item# P0265
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Anatole Kitain        (2-Appian APR 7029)
P0265. ANATOLE KITAIN: The Complete Columbia Recordings, 1936-39, incl. Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Brahms, Scriabin & Rachmaninoff. (England) 2-Appian APR 7029, recorded 1936-39. Transfers by Bryan Crimp. Final Sealed Copy! - 5024709160174


"Anatole Kitain (1903–1980) was an exact contemporary and fellow pupil of Vladimir Horowitz in Kiev, where he studied, as did the slightly older Simon Barere, with Felix Blumenfeld. All three developed fabulous techniques and were romantic pianists in the grand manner, and each fled Russia after the Revolution to make their way in the West.

That Kitain is the least known can only be put down to misfortune, as these pre-War European recordings attest to a pianist of fabulous talent. Sadly he failed to ‘make it’ after his Wartime emigration to the USA and slowly faded from view, giving his last New York concert in 1963."

- Appian

“Born in St Petersburg, Kitain apparently so astonished Glazunov with his precocity that he won immediate entrance to the Conservatory. Soon he moved to Kiev, becoming a classmate of Horowitz, and studying with Felix Blumenfeld. The Kitain family fled Russia in 1923, Anatole winning a prize at the Liszt Piano Competition three years later - Annie Fischer won first place. He settled in France only for his life to be overtaken by upheaval yet again, moving to America when war broke out. Here there seem to have been a series of false starts, including performances under an alias, though he later gave admiringly reviewed recitals throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

What began with reluctance in 1936 - the Paris Columbia branch wasn’t keen to record him, but made two tests that were actually published - ended in some triumph as Kitain soon moved to record in the Abbey Road studios in London. Kitain was a bit of a ‘first-take’ man from a quick look at the released matrix numbers. The Schumann ‘Toccata’, not surprisingly, necessitated ‘retakes’ and the third ‘take’ was used.

Aside from a sense that he was naturally unfettered by studio constraints, what impresses throughout is the naturalness of his phrasing and the sublimated virtuosity of a technique that allows him such freedoms as he takes. He is, in fact, not ‘free’ in the sense that he takes metrical liberties and even when he can seem idiosyncratic - perhaps in Chopin’s Scherzo in b minor - one senses the musical justification. The central section here shows his beautiful legato and sense of phrasing as the Etudes reveal his rhythmic and colouristic virtues. Whilst he is commanding in the C major, Op.10, #7 he’s invariably controlled and though virtuosic in Liszt never for a moment crude. There are few exaggerations. He was keen to record the Brahms Dances and they are vitalising performances. His Russian repertoire is very valuable, given his background. There is great warmth and sensitivity in his Scriabin and one wishes he could have recorded more Rachmaninoff. A pity he was never asked to record his old teacher Blumenfeld’s ‘Etude for the left hand’, which Kitain played in recitals. However, the élan of the Strauss-Godowsky FLEDERMAUS is something to be heard.”

- Jonathan Woolf, Classical.Net