Mindru Katz

Mindru Katz Plays Concertos by Mozart & Chopin

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Romanian pianist Mindru Katz, who studied with the same teacher (Florica Musicescu) as Dinu Lipatti, lived through the depredations of two violent governments. He survived imprisonment in a concentration camp during World War II and eventually fled Communist Romania, whereupon the country's cultural apparatus ordered much of his recorded legacy destroyed. These two performances date from near the end of Katz's life (he died in 1978) and were assembled from tapes of live performances given to the Cembal d'Amour label by the pianist's widow Zoara Katz. The evidence makes one wonder what has been lost and want to seek out the other scraps of Katz's recorded legacy that are available. He doesn't sound much like Lipatti in the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21, performed in 1975 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Yuval Zaliouk; his articulation is less liquid, more differentiated from the orchestral background. But his control over the long-distance line of the music is as impressive as that of his more famous contemporary. The spacious performance of the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major, K. 482, with the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra (same conductor), is especially strong. Using the big cadenzas by Carl Reinecke, Katz makes lots of room for tempo variations and extra speed at points of return to tonal stability without ever losing the sense of direction of the whole or seeming in the least mannered. The slow movements of both concertos are hushed and still, superbly controlled. It would appear (from the abrupt introduction of the applause at the end of each concerto, among other things) that these performances took a good deal of editing to return to a listenable state. No matter. They are well worth the investment for any devotee of historical releases.

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