Academic journal article ARSC Journal

United Classics

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

United Classics

Article excerpt

A curious release is the Beethoven Complete Piano Concertos from the Dutch concern, United Classics, in classic 1953 recordings by the great pianist Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991), beautifully accompanied by Paul van Kempen (1893-1955) conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (T2CD2012076, 3 CDs). These are of course classic Deutsche Grammophon recordings that may never have been out of the catalog. The pianism and orchestral partnering on these recordings have been equaled by very few other recordings of these works; Kempff's keyboard mastery is a catalog of virtues--perfect rhythmic precision, glowing tone, vigor, singing legato, and an overall musical understanding that never fails to bring the music vividly to life. The only quibble might be an occasional tendency towards harsh accents, but they fit so perfectly within his musical conception that they become just another weapon in his arsenal of expressive choices. One imagines Beethoven, reputedly a forceful pianist, playing his own music in just this fashion. These recordings also boast stunning unanimity of purpose between keyboard and orchestra, and they are very well recorded in well balanced mono sound. These classic performances have been widely available on DGG CD; my copy is the 1992 DGG Dokumente set which can still be purchased new through Amazon venders, and it includes as fillers the two lovely Beethoven Rondos for solo piano, Op. …

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