Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Wilhelm KEMPFF
Robert SCHUMANN - Fantasie in C Op. 17

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN - Six Bagatelles Op. 126

Johannes BRAHMS
- Sonata in F Minor Op. 5
Wilhelm Kempff (piano)
Recorded live at the 1958 Salzburg Festival
ORFEO D’OR C 570 011 B [79.16]


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Karajan’s artistic grip on the Salzburg Festival unofficially spanned three decades and woe betide anyone who upset him. Whether Kempff did or did not must be a matter of conjecture. What is sure is that this was his one and only appearance at the event. He was 63 years old at the time and lived to the ripe old age of 96, outliving Karajan himself. He was also a major recording artist for DG and their influence on the Festival was almost as pervasive as the conductor’s. Nevertheless this disc manages to fill a gap in Kempff’s discography with the Beethoven and Brahms works, two of the composers (Schubert and Schumann the others) with whose music this great pianist is readily associated. Kempff’s playing has two persistent virtues, his sense of rhythm and spontaneity. Much of this was the consequence of playing chamber music with such greats as Kulenkampff, Schneiderhan, Menuhin, Fournier and Rostropovich. Brendel is an admiring disciple and attended the master’s renowned classes in interpretation regularly held in the Italian town of Positano, where Kempff lived.

By all accounts it was hot and humid in the Mozarteum on 31 July 1958 for Kempff’s recital, but he seemed unaffected and the audience were engrossed in his poetic playing of Schumann’s Fantasie. He followed it with the late Bagatelles of Beethoven, rarely heard in the concert hall, and suffused the six with simplicity and clarity whilst dextrously fingering their more florid phrases in a highly focused performance. Brahms’ youthful sonata, his ‘Song of Love and Death’, is a highly Romantic showpiece which Kempff exploits to the full, belying his more advanced years, facing head on the technical hazards, such as the first movement’s complexities, and painting vivid colours of sound and dynamics.

In my review of another CD from this series (Carl Schuricht conducting Stölzel and Beethoven) I may have implied that the Orfeo D’Or series was but a dozen discs. In fact whereas there are that number listed of orchestral concerts, there are plenty more devoted to solo recitals such as this, as well as chamber music and song recitals.

Christopher Fifield


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