The Gods are good to the public. They make endless variations on a similar theme, and they furnish brilliant replacements. But they understand artists. When it comes to the real thing, they never make more than one of a kind…
Chicago Tribune critic Claudia Cassidy wrote those words in 1954, in response to the freakish death in a plane crash of a 31-year-old American artist declared "the greatest pianistic talent that this country has ever produced" by no less an authority than pianist Leon Fleisher. His name: William Kapell.
(interview clip: “With regard to the slow movement of this sonata, there is no doubt that the systematic and even flow of the sixteenth notes in the bass suggest no nocturne... suggests funeral march”)
William Kapell, discussing Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3. His 1951 recording of the piece was reissued on CD in 1998. By eerie coincidence, the CD also contains the last work Kapell performed, just one week before his death: Chopin’s Sonata No. 2, the so-called “Funeral March” sonata. - Jennifer Foster