C1274. RUDOLF KEMPE Cond. Berlin Phil.: Symphony #55 in E-flat (Haydn); Symphony #39 in E-flat, K.543 (Mozart); w.Nikita Magaloff: Piano Concerto #4 in G (Beethoven). (England) Testament SBT 1492, Live Performance,1962, Salzburg Festival. Final copy! - 749677149222
“Testament's series of previously unpublished live concert recordings made by the Berlin Philharmonic offers listeners a rich library of notable performances by some of history's greatest conductors. This disc featuring Rudolf Kempe was recorded at the Salzburg Festival in 1962 and includes works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Haydn's light- hearted Symphony #55 is followed by Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto with soloist Nikita Magaloff. Kempe's reading of Mozart's Symphony #39 features a bigger orchestra than we often hear nowadays, but the performance more rhythmically aware than many contemporary versions.
One of the great unsung conductors of the middle twentieth century, Rudolf Kempe enjoyed a strong reputation in England but never quite achieved the international acclaim that he might have had with more aggressive management, promotion, and recording. Not well enough known to be a celebrity but too widely respected to count as a cult figure, Kempe is perhaps best remembered as a connoisseur's conductor, one valued for his strong creative temperament rather than for any personal mystique. He studied oboe as a child, performed with the Dortmund Opera, and, in 1929, barely out of his teens, he became first oboist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. His conducting début came in 1936, at the Leipzig Opera; this performance of Lortzing's DER WILDSCHÜTZ was so successful that the Leipzig Opera hired him as a répétiteur. Kempe served in the German army during World War II, but much of his duty was out of the line of fire; in 1942 he was assigned to a music post at the Chemnitz Opera. After the war, untainted by Nazi activities, he returned to Chemnitz as director of the opera (1945-1948), and then moved on to the Weimar National Theater (1948-1949). From 1949 to 1953 he served as general music director of the Staatskapelle Dresden, East Germany's finest orchestra. He then moved to the identical position at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, 1952-1954, succeeding the young and upwardly mobile Georg Solti. During this period he was also making guest appearances outside of Germany, mainly in opera: in Vienna (1951), at Covent Garden (1953), and at the Metropolitan Opera (1954), to mention only the highlights. Although he conducted Wagner extensively, especially at Covent Garden, Kempe did not make his Bayreuth début until 1960. As an opera conductor he was greatly concerned with balance and texture, and singers particularly appreciated his efforts on their behalf. Kempe made a great impression in England, and in 1960 Sir Thomas Beecham named him associate conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic. Kempe became the orchestra's principal conductor upon Beecham's death the following year, and, after the orchestra was reorganized, served as its artistic director from 1963 to 1975. He was also the chief conductor of the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra from 1965 to 1972, and of the Munich Philharmonic from 1967 until his death in 1976. During the last year of his life he also entered into a close association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Interpretively, Kempe was something of a German Beecham. He was at his best -- lively, incisive, warm, expressive, but never even remotely self-indulgent -- in the Austro-Germanic and Czech repertory. Opera lovers prize his versions of LOHENGRIN, DIE MEISTERSINGER, and ARIADNE AUF NAXOS.”
- James Reel, Rovi
“Nikita Magaloff was one of the more interesting and charismatic keyboard figures of the twentieth century. Many of his recordings are still available and in modern sound, yet here was a man who was a friend of Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, (from whom he took composition lessons), and Ravel, who was an enthusiastic admirer. Magaloff concertized with the most important conductors and orchestras of the day and at the most prestigious festivals. He also collaborated with the leading string players, like violinist Joseph Szigeti. Though Magaloff was born in Russia, he was cosmopolitan in outlook, with a broad repertory that favored Chopin; he played many all-Chopin concerts and had the distinction of being the first pianist to record all of Chopin's piano music. But his repertory also included Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Scriabin, and numerous others.
Magaloff was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 8 February,1912. His family fled the Revolution when he was six, traveling first to Finland, then to the United States, and finally settling in Paris in 1922. Magaloff's first advanced studies were at the Paris Conservatory, where his chief teacher was Isidor Philipp. It was in the 1920s in Paris when Magaloff met Prokofiev, Ravel, and Rachmaninov, composers whose music and influence figured prominently in his career. He also befriended Szigeti there, a man he credited with introducing him to a broad range of chamber music and whose daughter he would later marry.
While from the 1920s through the 1950s Magaloff was active in the concert hall and recording studio, his career seemed to take wing after 1960. This lift might have been due to the cessation of his teaching activities; from 1949 to 1959 he regularly held master classes at the Geneva Conservatory. But then perhaps part of Magaloff's late success owed something to the change in his style: he took more chances, displayed greater passion, and played, arguably, with more spirit.
Most of Magaloff's available recordings were made after 1960. He remained busy throughout the last three decades of his career, hardly slowing down even near the end. In the 1990-1991 season, he gave a six-concert series that covered nearly the complete Chopin output.“
- Robert Cummings, allmusic.com