The overall sound of
these transfers is not merely good,
but startlingly so, as you will quickly
discover if you take advantage of the
Ludwig track sample audition feature
(not currently available). Only in the
loudest passages of tracks 8 and 9 is
there a slight distortion. Oddly, there
is a single loud thwack!
at about two minutes into track 2, and
some softer crackles at 2 minutes into
track 3; when it would have been so
simple to remove them, I wonder why
they were not removed during restoration.
Naturally, I have copied the disk, performing
my own surgery in the process and now
have a cleaned up copy to listen to.
But why did I have to do that? Is this
some sort of "watermark?"
Somebody’s idea of "authenticity?"
If you attempt to download
the booklet at the website given, <<http://www.haenssler-classic.de>>,
you are told: "Booklet-Download
derzeit nicht verfügbar! Leider
können wir Ihnen an dieser Stelle
das Booklet erst Ende Februar 2004 zum
Download zur Verfügung stellen.
Wir bitten dies zu entschuldigen und
bedanken uns für Ihr Verständnis.
Die Online-Redaktion." If you click
"English" in the upper right
corner, you then are redirected to <<https://ssl.haenssler.de/classic.uk>>
and discover: "NOTE: The Booklet-Download
feature is temporarily unavailable!
This feature is currently Under Construction
and will be available again at the end
of February 2004. Please check back
again at that time. Thank you for your
understanding. The Webmaster" Well,
these works are so familiar, who needs
The performance of
the Pathétique is a little
unusual compared with mid to late 20th
century consensus performance canon
(track 2), but we should expect nothing
less from one of the century’s greatest
musicians, and we should expect an awful
lot to have changed between 1932 and
the 1950s. Although it is unfashionable
to speak of it, individual Germans suffered
during World War II, and a great artist
and humanitarian like Kempff could be
expected to emerge from the experience
shaken if not shattered, at the very
least re-examining everything that he
had done before.
Performance of the
Op. 53, "Waldstein" is nearer
the consensus (track 6). Fortunately
Kempff does not observe the "allegro
assai" notation on the first movement
of Op. 57, "Appassionata."
Although I suspect very few pianists
could play it this fast if they wanted
to, Kempff has plenty of velocity in
reserve and is clearly shaping these
phrases and structuring the drama (track
9). The Op. 129 is neither a distinguished
work nor a particularly distinguished
performance of it, so let’s pretend
it was just left off the disk, which
still gives us over an hour of greatness
for our money.
It’s not that I’m really
a Beethoven hater (even though I’ve
said almost that several times), but
you will no doubt think it odd that
I don’t have any performances of these
sonatas in my collection at present.
That doesn’t mean I don’t know exactly
what they sound like, as well as what
they should sound like. The point
to be made is that I now do
have a favourite performance of these
works in my collection—this one (de-thwacked,
of course). So comparisons might not
be forthcoming, but superlatives—yes,