Julius Katchen ∙ Piano Recitals 1946-1965 ∙ 2CD


Julius Katchen was one of two musically gifted children in a family of musicians. His sister, Rita Katchen Hillman, was an accomplished pianist as well as violinist, who served as concertmaster of the New Jersey students orchestra and the Oberlin Conservatory orchestra. In an atmosphere of musical tradition, young Julius started playing the piano. Showing extraordinary signs of musical talent from earliest childhood, he had been trained by his maternal grandmother. Together with his mother, he heard many famous pianists play at Carnegie Hall, including his three idols at that time, Rachmaninoff, Josef Lhévinne and Alexander Brailowsky. Other pianists, such as André Benoit, José Iturbi, and Mischa Levitzki, who had heard young Julius in private auditions, acclaimed his talents. Between 1937 and 1939, Katchen appeared regularly in concerts with major American symphony orchestras, and he gave numerous recitals. Despite the great reviews and the reception, Katchen followed his appearances, not with a tour capitalizing on the notices and publicity, but by further study. He worked with Julius Goldstein Herford in New York, a German immigrant, who studied piano with James Kwast in Berlin. Thereafter he studied privately with David Saperton, former head of the piano department of Curtis Institute. After the Second World War, Katchen had been awarded the graduate scholarship as an exchange fellow for a year’s study at the University of Paris. Because he thought the opportunities better for concert dates and musical growth, Katchen built his career in Europe. He succumbed to cancer and died in 1969, at the height of a brilliant career at the age of 42. In a 31-year career, Katchen played on six continents, in 42 countries and with 122 symphony orchestras.

Some of these performances derive from so early in Katchen’s career that they include his earliest radio recording from 1946. The double album includes Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in A-flat Major, Op 26, Gershwin’s Three Préludes and Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D 960, three pieces missing from his commercial legacy.

Meloclassic would like to thank Claire Bouchendhomme and Bruno Monsaingeon for their assistance with this CD set. We especially thank the Rita Katchen Hillman Family for providing rare photos included in this set.

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JULIUS KATCHEN Piano Recitals 1946-1965

CD 1

BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No 12 in A-flat Major, Op 26
Recorded · 27 May 1964 · Stuttgart · Villa K · SDR · Radio Studio Recording

SCHUBERT: Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D 960
Recorded · 6 August 1960 ∙ Prades ∙ Église Saint Pierre ∙ RTF ∙ Live Recording

GERSHWIN: Three Préludes
Recorded · 28 October 1951 · Hamburg · Studio · NDR · Radio Studio Recording

BACH/HESS: Chorale Prélude in G Major ‘Jesu Joy, Of Man’
MOZART: Allegro from Piano Sonata in C Major, KV 545
CHOPIN: Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op 53

Recorded · 20 November 1946 · Paris · Studio d’Essai · RDF · Radio Studio Recording

CD 2

BACH: Partita No 2 in C Minor, BWV 826
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No 30 in E Major, Op 109
SCHUMANN: Études Symphoniques, Op 13
CHOPIN: Ballade No 3 in A-flat Major, Op 47

Recorded · 25 September 1965 · Ludwigsburg · Schloss · SDR · Live Recording

MENDELSSOHN: Rondo capriccioso in E Major, Op 14
MENDELSSOHN: Prelude and Fugue No 1 in E Minor, Op 35

Recorded · 28 October 1951 · Hamburg · Studio · NDR · Radio Studio Recording

Article number: MC 1061
UPC barcode: 791154050835
Release date: 1 April 2022
Booklet: 12 Pages
Total timing: 71:09 CD1 ∙ 75:17 CD2
From the Original Masters ∙ © 2021 Meloclassic

July 2022 ∙ British Gramophone ∙ Rob Cowan ∙ Julius Katchen ∙ Piano Recitals 1946-1965
The gifted American left us numerous recordings, principally for Decca, though some live tapes survive, including the ‘Piano Recitals 1946-1965’ that appear on another recent Meloclassic double-pack. Disc 1 opens, with a deeply considered account of Beethoven’s Op 26 Sonata. Op 109 is equally memorable, especially the rhapsodic first movement. Schubert’s B flat Sonata features a first movement not dissimilar to Horowitz’s at Carnegie Hall prior to his sabbatical, but come the Andante sostenuto and you can barely breathe: such intensity! The same set also includes a fiery live account of Schumann’s Études Symphoniques as well as memorable readings of Bach’s Second Partita and various shorter works.
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July 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Rob Challinor ∙ Julius Katchen Piano Recitals ∙ 1946-1965
Katchen recitals span two decades of superior music making. The recitals here were given in Paris, Hamburg, Prades, Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg, from the earliest to the most recent, and expand known reportorial strengths. The booklet notes enhance the fine transfers. These succinct but communicative series of recitals show Katchen at his considerable best.
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