WILHELM KEMPFF Beethoven Piano Concertos - the 78rpm recordings


Compact Disc 1 (75.34)


1-3. Piano Concerto No 1 in C major Op 15 BERLIN STATE OPERA ORCHESTRA Recorded in September 1925

4. Bagatelle in C major Op 33 No 5 Recorded in 1920? [Kempff’s 1st recording]

5. Six Ecossaises in E flat major WoO83 Recorded in 1920?

6-8. Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor Op 37 DRESDEN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA / PAUL VAN KEMPEN Recorded on 11 June 1942

Compact Disc 2 (77.38)


1-3. Piano Concerto No 4 in G major Op 58 GERMAN OPERA HOUSE ORCHESTRA, BERLIN / PAUL VAN KEMPEN Recorded on 19 March 1940

4-6. Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat major ‘Emperor’ Op 73 BERLIN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA / PETER RAABE Recorded on 6 January 1936

7. Rondo a capriccio in G major ‘Rage over a lost penny’ Op 129 Recorded on 24 September 1937

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 much of Beethoven’s piano output, including four of the five concertos, on Polydor 78’s. This set is a companion to the recently issued set of late sonatas (APR6018) and includes what was the first ever recording of Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto – a late acoustic recording from 1925 which shows the young Kempff was much more sprightly in this work than he later became. In spite of the primitive recording, the energy of the outer movements and the poetry of the slow movement are not compromised. Concertos 3 to 5, in better sound and featuring the greatest German orchestras of the period, reflect ‘state of the art’ Beethoven interpretation at this time and are a worthy alternative, if less well known, to the Schnabel cycle. The set is filled out with the first ever CD issue of Kempff’s first recording, of a Beethoven Bagatelle and Eccossaises, and a wonderfully extrovert performance of the ‘Rage over a lost penny’ Rondo.