Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Overture, Leonore No. 3, Op.
Antonín DVORAK (1841-1904)
Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, 'From the New
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
The Love for Three Oranges - Symphonic Suite, Op. 33bis.
Recorded in the Royal Albert Hall, London on August 27th and
29th, 1975. [ADD].
Artists BBCL4056-2 [70.35]
Included in the booklet to this 'concert' is an interview with Kempe's widow,
Cordula, who launches the Rudolf Kempe Memorial Award for Young Conductors
in 2001. She makes explicit the dichotomy of Kempe's old-school conducting
training in Germany and the speedier, more spontaneous approach of British
orchestras, a necessary offshoot of English schedules. That the contrast
was a symbiotic one is attested to by the present recording, the atmosphere
heightened immeasurably by the 'live' element.
The performance of Leonore No. 3 Overture is gripping from first to
last. True, there are lapses of ensemble, but these are a small price to
pay for the sense of drama Kempe is able to inspire from the BBC players:
the Allegro creeps in with all the hushed expectancy one could ask
for, and Kempe has a complete grasp of Beethoven's blissfully protracted
A sense of dramatic characterisation is also very much to the fore in the
Suite from Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, but here it is
coupled with an infectious sense of fun. From the bustling violin scales
of Le Magicien Tchélio et Fata Morgana jouent aux cartes to
the riotous (and famous) March, everybody has a ball. La Prince et la
Princesse provides a moment of welcome tenderness (the horn solo is
Cordula Kempe makes the point that Dresden (Kempe's birthplace) is 'only
spitting distance from Prague - it's the same soil'. Indeed, Dvorák's
music does seem to be within Kempe's soul: he perfectly understands the musical
processes involved, from motivic development to the central role of texture.
Melodies are given space to breathe, momentum effortlessly maintained in
the outer movements. The sense of stillness in the famous Largo is
truly beautiful: the BBC Symphony Orchestra plays with a rapt concentration
(and a true pianissimo) that stills the audience into silence.
Kempe's time with the BBC Symphony Orchestra was painfully and cruelly short,
beginning officially in September 1975 (immediately after these concerts)
and curtailed by his death in May 1976. This disc acts as a fitting memorial
as well as a pointer to what might have been.