WILHELM KEMPFF Late Beethoven Sonatas - Polydor recordings 1925-36


Compact Disc 1 (76.02)


1-2. Sonata No 24 in F sharp major Op 78 Recorded in 1932 (Polydor 90193)

3-5. Sonata No 26 in E flat major ‘Les adieux’ Op 81a Recorded in 1928 (Polydor 66687/8)

6-7. Sonata No 27 in E minor Op 90 Recorded in 1928 (Polydor 62639 & 66712)

8-10. Sonata No 29 in B flat major ‘Hammerklavier’ Op 106 Recorded on 7 & 25 January 1936 (Polydor 67077/81)


Compact Disc 2 (71.26)


1-4. Sonata No 28 in A major Op 101 Acoustic recording, 1925 (Polydor 66178/9)

5-7. Sonata No 30 in E major Op 109 Recorded on 29 July 1936 (Polydor 67091/2)

8-10. Sonata No 31 in A flat major Op 110 Recorded on 29 July 1936 (Polydor 67088/90)

11-12. Sonata No 32 in C minor Op 111 Recorded on 31 July 1936 (Polydor 67093/5)

Wilhelm Kempff had such a long life, and recorded so prolifically in the LP era, that we tend to forget that he began his recording career in 1920 in the acoustic period, and recorded 24 of the 32 Beethoven sonatas on 78’s. Indeed, in the pre-war period he was second only to Schnabel (whose complete cycle was done in the 1930’s) in the amount of Beethoven he recorded, and he made the first ever recordings of the sonatas Op81a, Op90 & Op101, included in this set. Kempff went on to record two complete sonata cycles in the 1950’s and 1960’s but he has always been regarded as a poetic and lyrical player and his Beethoven is therefore more closely allied to Mozart than the more barnstorming approach of others. The ‘first thoughts’ included here are perhaps the freest of all his recordings and have an almost improvisatory feel. Perhaps the impossibility of editing at this period captured Kempff more naturally than in his later efforts. None of the recordings included here are currently available elsewhere and Op90 and Op101 have never been reissued since their original release on 78s. The acoustic Op101 is a particularly rare item barely known to collectors.