Kapustin: Piano Concerto No. 5 / Dupree, Beykirch, Berlin RSO

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When the music of Nikolai Kapustin was discovered by a wider audience in the West, it was positively shocking: Who was this Soviet (!) composer, whose music sounded more like an Oscar Peterson improvisation than anything else – but who wrote detailed scores, black with notes?! As we discover more and more of his music (and there’s so much more yet to discover!), a very distinct, always wholly charming voice emerges, whether in a freewheeling outright-jazzy work like his Concerto for 2 Pianos and Percussion, the more symphonic Fifth Piano Concerto, or the frisky Sinfonietta which transports us into a smoky 1940s bar in Manhattan.


This splendid new release confirms the excellent impression made by its predecessors, especially the remarkable disc containing the Fourth Piano Concerto and other orchestral works. Kapustin’s jazz-inflected style offers a full range of expressive nuance projected in a consistently kinetic, refreshing and melodically attractive language that is uniquely his own. The Fifth Piano Concerto is a single-movement work about twenty minutes long, and there’s not a dull moment, particularly in Frank Dupree’s nimble and virtuosic performance. Whiplash interchanges between the solo and orchestra ensure endless textural variety, while the musical ideas tumble over one another with uninhibited abandon. It’s as lovable as it is sophisticated, with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under Dominik Beykirch having a great time as a full participant in the proceedings.

The Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion will evoke memories of Bartók’s Sonata for the same combination, but otherwise the two works couldn’t be more different in style. The percussion here is basically a drum set, plus a selection of mallet instruments including xylophone, vibraphone and glockenspiel. The piece is a touch more harmonically astringent than the concerto, but no less engaging. Franck Dupree is joined here by equally able Adrian Brendle on second piano, who also participates in this lively version of the delightful Sinfonietta for piano four-hands. This piece also exists as an orchestral original, which we can only hope to hear someday–it’s a tuneful, high-spirited gem. As you might have surmised, the performances leave nothing to be desired, and Capriccio’s sonics are first rate. This series only goes from strength to strength. You will surely want to hear it.

-- ClassicsToday.com (10/10; David Hurwitz)

Pianist Frank Dupree, with his stupendous pianistic bravura, his glowing personal commitment, and ultimately his standard-setting recordings, allows us to understand Kapustin's genius in all its stylistic range.

The Fifth Piano Concerto Op. 72, written in 1993 for the pianist Nikolai Petrov, is characterized by incredible virtuosity. The stylistic parallels to the US music tradition and in particular to George Gershwin, are emphasized again and again.

Second on the album is a later work by the composer, namely the Concerto for 2 Pianos and Percussion Op. 104 from 2002. Is it presumptuous to interpret this glittering, entertaining, exuberantly celebrating life and yet formally quite concise piece as a hymn to freedom. From a purely musical point of view, a real event can be reported: Frank Dupree and the equally young Adrian Brendle form Kapustin's exuberant concert session in swirling concordance with the percussionists Meinhard 'Obi' Jenne and Franz Bach under the musical direction of Dominik Beykirch and the stylish Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra to an impasto big band sound full of wispy shooting star sounds.

The album concludes with the Sinfonietta for Piano Four Hands Op. 49 with the movements Overture, Allegro; Slow Waltz, Larghetto; Intermezzo, Allegretto and Rondo, Presto. Commissioned by the Soviet Ministry of Culture in 1987, the “little symphony” was first set for an orchestral version, and is performed here in an arrangement by the composer for piano four hands. The two mood cannons Dupree and Brendle swept across the keyboard like a roaring whirlwind, doing bella figura in the languid three-four bar slow waltz, before escorting us out of the album into the silence with intricate rhythms and a furious finale.

-- Merker Online (Germany)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: February 03, 2023

  • Catalog Number: C5495

  • UPC: 845221054957

  • Label: Capriccio

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Nikolai Kapustin

  • Conductor: Dominik Beykirch

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

  • Performer: Frank Dupree, Adrian Brendle, Meinhard 'Obi' Jenne, Franz Bach


  1. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5, Op. 72

    Composer: Nikolai Kapustin

    Ensemble: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Frank Dupree (Piano)

    Conductor: Dominik Beykirch

  2. Concerto for 2 Pianos and Percussion, Op. 104

    Composer: Nikolai Kapustin

    Ensemble: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Frank Dupree (Piano), Adrian Brendle (Piano), Meinhard 'Obi' Benne (Drumset), Franz Bach (Percussion)

    Conductor: Dominik Beykirch

  3. Sinfonietta, Op. 49

    Composer: Nikolai Kapustin

    Performer: Frank Dupree (Piano), Adrian Brendle (Piano)