Wilhelm Kempff

BBC Legends: BBCL40452

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Wilhelm Kempff

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Wilhelm Kempff

Bach, J S:

Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue in D minor, BWV903


Piano Sonata No. 22 in F major, Op. 54


Piano Sonata No. 11 in F minor, D625

Klavierstücke (3), D946

Impromptu in G flat major, D899 No. 3

Impromptu in A flat major, D899 No. 4

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Johann Sebastian Bach: Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903



Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 22 in F major, Op. 54

I. In tempo d'un minuetto

II. Allegretto - Piu allegro

Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata No. 12 in F minor, D. 625

I. Allegro

II. Scherzo: Allegretto

III. Allegro

Franz Schubert: 3 Klavierstucke, D. 946

No. 1 in E flat minor

No. 2 in E flat major

No. 3 in C major

Franz Schubert: 4 Impromptus, Op. 90, D. 899

No. 3 in G flat major

No. 4 in A flat major

Gramophone Classical Music Guide


“Kempff's art was at its apogee at the time of his 70th birthday in the autumn of 1965; rigour and fantasy held in perfect poise. Bryce Morrison, who has provided the notes for this BBC Legends release, and who was present at this concert – and indeed many other legendary recitals, recalls: 'If I were to single out one musical experience that transcended all others, it would have to be Wilhelm Kempff's 1969 Queen Elizabeth Hall recital. At his greatest, as he undoubtedly was on this occasion, Kempff's playing seemed bathed in a numinous light or halo of sound, his choice of music by Bach, Beethoven, and Schubert seemingly improvised on the spot.' Alfred Brendel has said of Kempff, 'he was an Aeolian harp, ever ready to respond to whatever interesting wind blew his way'. It's a remark that applies especially well to Kempff's Schubert. He has said that in his early years Schubert's music was a book with seven seals. He played Schubert Lieder, but it was not until much later, after the First World War, that he entered the private world of the piano sonatas. For him, Schubert's 'heavenly length' was never lengthy if seen in proportion to the larger experience. 'If length becomes evident as longueur,' Kempff has written, 'the fault lies with the interpreter (I speak from my own experience …).' Not here. The reading is wonderfully taut yet touched with a rare ease of utterance. The enigmatic end is perfectly judged (and well 'heard' by an audience whose applause merely stutters into life). After the 'disconsolate lyricism' (BM's phrase) of the sonata, the Drei Klavierstücke offer more or less unalloyed pleasure, Kempff winging the music into life. The playing has charm, dash and magic. He once said of Schubert's piano music: 'It ought not to be subjected to the glaring lights of the concert halls, as it's the confession of an extremely vulnerable spirit. Schubert reveals his innermost secrets to us pianopianissimo.' We hear this wonderfully well in Kempff's playing of the first of his two encores, the Impromptu in G flat, where his fabled cantabile comes even more mesmerisingly into its own. An Aeolian harp indeed! At the start of the recital, Kempff provides a shrewdly voiced and somewhat Mendelssohnian account of Bach's Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue.
It's a performance to free the fingers and light the way ahead, the great work assuming the role of warm-up man with as good a grace as can be expected.”

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