Kempff was a great pianist: possibly one of the finest in the
twentieth century. The Philips Great Pianists series
devoted three volumes of double discs to him. Interestly there
was very little Mozart among what was a splendid collection.
There is a single disc on DG of him playing concertos. This
has always been well regarded but I’ve not come across a disc
of solo music before. Here we have a re-issue from 1962 which
I cannot see has previously been out on CD or reviewed. To be
frank I didn’t warm to Kempff’s style here; he’s a marvellous
Beethoven player. Sadly this isn’t Ludwig but Wolfgang!
two sonatas are among Mozart’s most loved. K331 starts with
a lovely set of variations which were orchestrated by Reger.
Kempff’s style was off-putting and he was little better in the
slow movement. The Alla Turca finale sounds as if Kempff
was battering the piano into submission! To get the kind of
Mozart I prefer, I turned to Eschenbach on a great value 5 CD
collection (DG 463 137) and found his simpler style simply
more Mozartian.This is after all music of a 25 year old. To
over-intellectualise this music is at the risk of missing the
K310 is a lovely piece and my favourite version is Dinu Lipatti, mono but
superb, from 1950 (EMI Classics 566988-2).
This is a beautiful sonata and one I know very well.
Here Kempff is over-fussy and misses the charm of this
piece. He adds unnecessary touches to the work.
plays the two other pieces well, although not enough to save
the disc. The later Fantasy K475 is a deeper work than
the sonatas and perhaps he’s more temprementally suited to it.
It does have a Beethovenian maturity and I enjoyed this performance
much more than the others.I suppose some fans of the great man
will be tempted by this performance but the majority should
turn to the wide range of choices available.
remastering has produced an over bright sound and maybe this
doesn’t help these works. The cover boasts a positive view from
the famed “Penguin Guide” which refers to the LP’s. I’m sad
not to be more positive as I greatly enjoy Kempff in Beethoven
and Schubert but Mozart didn’t take up much of his discography
and I think this disc tells us why. One to admire but not love
and I don’t think that this re-issue justifies its “Original”
David R Dunsmore