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Boyd Pomeroy
Fanfare, May 2012

This valuable release nicely complements two existing live Katchen accounts of the Brahms concerto…

The 1967 performance is vintage Katchen in its bigness of conception, mercurial reflexes, and expressive fullness and generosity, with that distinctive metallic glint to his piano tone. Equally distinctive are the rich bronzed sculpting of the contrapuntal lines in the Adagio, and the passionate urgency of the second theme (B Minor–F♯-Minor, bars 37 ff.)…the central episode (B♭-Major–Minor) has great finesse and delicacy. The final stages…summon an irrepressible mounting excitement, culminating in a final cadenza of thrilling abandon. Kempe’s conducting is a major plus, in its typical distinctive grace, lightness of touch (always airborne, even in the heaviest textures), and rich subtlety of shading, inspiring a fine-tuned response from the BBC orchestra.

The fillers are live radio recordings made in the BBC’s studios without an audience. They are consistently riveting, from the massive yet sharply chiseled Chopin ballade to an astonishing no-holds-barred assault on the Mephisto Waltz—indeed verging on reckless, considering which his level of accuracy is phenomenally impressive. A wonderfully elastic, long-breathed Vogel als Prophet provides a welcome respite before Triana, which he fairly burns through, taking no prisoners—perhaps a little short on local color, but terrifically exciting.

The sound is consistently good for its time and provenance, and ICA’s transfers and production values are of a high standard. This marvelous new label…is a class act, and I wish it a long life. Highly recommended. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

Bryce Morrison
Gramophone, March 2012

Brahms was at the heart of Katchen’s extensive repertoire and, finely partnered by Rudolf Kempe and the BBC SO, his unflagging brio and impetus are complemented by a moving and overtly emotional response to this daunting masterpiece. This record is a reminder and a remembrance of a tragic loss but an indelible musical force. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Paul L Althouse
American Record Guide, March 2012

Katchen was one of our finest Brahms pianists from the 1950s up to his death from cancer in 1969…a very fine performance, alternating nicely between raw virtuosity and a brooding, ruminating quality that brings out the depth of Brahms’s thinking…The playing is very romantic and secure…A welcome release, particularly for Katchen’s fans. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

Norman Lebrecht
La Scena Musicale, November 2011

This London studio performance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Rudolf Kempe is a good reminder of [Julius Katchen’s] exceptional gift.

Katchen glides into the music like a seal into arctic water, leaving no doubt in the listener’s mind that he is in his natural element…the finale has all the fireworks it needs without ever sounding showy. Read complete review

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