P1237. WILHELM KEMPFF: Bagatelle in C Major, Op. 33, #5, Recorded c.1920 [Kempff’s 1st recording] (Polydor 62400); Ecossaises (6) in E flat major, Recorded c.1920 (Polydor 62400); ‘Rage over a lost penny' Rondo a capriccio in G major, Op. 129, Recorded 24 September 1937 (Polydor 62802); w. Paul Van Kempen or Peter Raabe Cond.: Piano Concerto #1 in C Major, Op. 15, Recorded September, 1925 (Polydor 69815/8); Piano Concerto #3 in c minor, Op. 37, Recorded 11 June 1942 (Polydor 67946/50); Piano Concerto #4 in G major, Op. 58, Recorded 19 March, 1940 (Polydor 67674/8); 'Emperor' Piano Concerto #5 in E flat major, Op. 73, Recorded 6 January, 1936 (Polydor 67082/6) (all Beethoven). (France) 2-Appian APR 6019, recorded 1925-42. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. - 5024709160198
“One of the twentieth century's most important pianists, Wilhelm Kempff found warmth in Beethoven where many others discovered only stress and passion. Concentrating on the composers of the late Classical and early-to-middle Romantic periods, Kempff achieved graceful, amiable results while not neglecting the sterner core of this music. His nobility of purpose was everywhere evident, made manifest through lucid textures, an adherence to a flowing legato, and tonal shading. In addition, he was a composer whose oeuvre included two symphonies, four operas, songs, and solo piano works.
In 1914, Kempff traveled to Potsdam for studies at the Viktoriagymnasium before returning to Berlin to finish his work at the Hochschule and enroll at the university. At age 20, Kempff served as organist and pianist on a tour of Germany and Scandinavia by the Berlin Cathedral Choir. A successful 1917 piano recital at the Berlin Singakademie led to an engagement the following year with the Berlin Philharmonic, the first of innumerable collaborations with that august ensemble. During the 1920's and 1930's, he toured South America and Japan, as well as many parts of Europe, adding to his reputation for uncompromising musicianship and personable interpretation. At the same time, he taught, serving first as director at the Stuttgart Musikhochschule from 1924 to 1929 and, later, as piano instructor at Potsdam's Mamorpalais for the decade before WWII. The war kept his activities confined to Germany, but with its end, Kempff once more resumed a busy performance schedule.
England and America heard Kempff only later. In London, the public, including a large number of German émigrés, applauded him upon his first appearance there in 1951. Not until 1964 did New York hear the pianist in person, although by then his many Deutsche Grammophon recordings had already established his stature for Americans. Indeed, Kempff's long and fruitful relationship with that label had brought to the market a long list of desirable recordings, among them the complete Beethoven piano concerti; the sonatas; a relaxed, but rewarding survey with Wolfgang Schneiderhan of the Beethoven violin sonatas; and various collections of Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Brahms.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com