Peter Katin shines in Tchaikovsky's First Concerto
Plus a brilliant Concert Fantasia, in excellent late-1950s Decca stereo
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23[notes / score]
New Symphony Orchestra of London* conducted by Edric Cundell
Recording producer: Erik Smith Recording Engineer: Alan Reeve
Recorded 11 May, 1959 Kingsway Hall, London
*Although originally - and it now seems correctly - attributed to the New Symphony Orchestra of London in its US release, this recording was later wrongly listed by Decca as being by the London Symphony Orchestra. It has since been established that the LSO would have been
most likely out of the country on the day of recording.
TCHAIKOSVKY Concert Fantasia in G major, Op. 56 [notes / score] London Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Sir Adrian Boult
Recording producer: Ray Minshull Recording Engineer: Alan Reeve
Recorded 17-19 February, 1958 Kingsway Hall, London
Transfers from Decca LP SPA168
Peter Katin, piano
FLAC downloads include full scores of each work
Notes on the transfers:
This, the second in our series of stereo concerto recordings made in the late 1950s by Peter Katin for Decca and its subsidiaries, brings together his two orchestral Tchaikovsky releases. The Concert Fantasia derived from the same sessions with Boult which produced the Rachmaninov Concerto No. 1 in February 1958, and were issued in mono and stereo both in the UK and the USA at around the same time. The Concerto No. 1 however was initially destined only for the American market - credited originally to the New Symphony Orchestra of London, its UK reissue in the early 1970s gave the London Symphony as the orchestra, though it does not appear in the official discography of the orchestra. It is the only recording in the Decca catalogue credited to English composer and conductor Edric Cundell (1893-1961), whose name was mis-spelt "Kundell" on both Decca and Olympia re-issues, though the original Richmond issues were correct in this matter.
Spellings and questions over orchestras aside, these are both excellent recordings and, taken from near-mint 1970s Decca pressings, were very straightforward to transfer and restore barring a curious low-frequency tone which appeared intermittently in the Concert Fantasia. Indeed it is fair to say this is among the least interventionist remasters ever to appear on the Pristine label.
Born in London, Peter Katin's musical talent was evident at the age of four, and he was admitted to the senior department of the Royal Academy of Music when he was twelve, four years before the official age of entry. The success of his Wigmore Hall début in 1948 started him on a career that has taken him throughout the world (he was the first British artist to give a post-war solo tour of the then USSR), and in those earlier years he was greatly influenced by his meetings with Clifford Curzon, Claudio Arrau and Myra Hess, who gave him much advice for which he has always been deeply grateful.
His early successes seemed centred round the classical composers; he was greatly in demand for Mozart concerto performances in particular and he also developed a rare talent for chamber music. However, a performance of Rachmaninov's D minor Concerto in 1953 changed his image almost overnight, and hailed as a virtuoso of the first order he was constantly in demand for the most taxing of romantic concertos until the late sixties, but by that time he decided that he needed to make a more in-depth study of the composers who had almost escaped him when he was immersed in the big major works.
The first composer in this specialised study was Chopin, and since that time he has become regarded as one of the finest interpreters of this composer's music. He was sufficiently encouraged to make similar studies of Schubert, Schumann, Debussy and Liszt, and as a result has given a number of one-composer recitals. His repertoire now is very flexible and he is happy about performing concertos by Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms in one week, while keeping a very wide variety of styles in his recital programmes.
His constant encouragement of the preserving of individuality in young artists has been one factor in the conferral during 1994 of an Honorary Doctorate by De Montfort University, and as a teacher, he has had highly successful years at the Royal Academy of Music, The University of Western Ontario, the Royal College of Music and Thames Valley University.
He has now almost forty recordings, more than at any other time in his career, which have been received with critical superlatives. These include the complete Chopin Nocturnes and Impromptus, Grieg Lyric Pieces, Chopin Waltzes and Polonaises and the Rachmaninov Preludes. A live performance of a recital including the Liszt Sonata was released to a rave review in Classic CD. His interest in period pianos has resulted in three such recordings, as well as an all-Chopin programme on his own Collard & Collard 1836, and another on a Broadwood grand that was used by Chopin on the occasion of his last visit to London.
Peter Katin gave an anniversary recital at Wigmore Hall on 13 December 1998, exactly fifty years from the date of his début, celebrated his seventieth birthday in November 2000, and his seventy-fifth birthday in 2005. His acclaimed recording of the complete Mozart sonatas were reissued by Altara Music in July 2008, and a new CD of four Haydn sonatas await release; a Chopin recital (originally for Olympia) from Somm Recordings has been very favourably received. Peter Katin has supported several charities in the past, and he has given no less than fourteen recitals which have raised vital funds for the Chernobyl Children's Project (UK).