The thirty-five CDs that make up the present boxed set are designed to acquaint listeners with one of the most important pianists of the 20th century or, if they are already familiar with his work, to allow them to rediscover it anew. Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991) was the final representative of the great tradition of German pianists that also included Artur Schnabel (1882-1951) and Wilhelm Backhaus (1884-1969). Of the three, Kempff had by far the longest career - he gave his last public concert in 1982.
Overshadowed by his father, Johann Sebastian, and his brothers Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian, the music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach provides a bridge between the high art of the first and expressive tendencies of Sturm und Drang. His Harpsichord Concertos, as performed here by Maude Gratton [of the Ricercar Consort] and Il Convito, offer a very successful synthesis of these two trends.
The majority of the concerts given by Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Berlin Philharmonic between 1947 and 1954 were recorded by the RIAS Berlin; all of these recordings are documented in this boxed set. The original tapes from the RIAS archives have been made available for the first time for this edition so these CDs also offer unsurpassed technical quality. Furthermore, some of the recordings are presented for the very first time, such as the Fortner Violin Concerto with Gerhard Taschner.
Thoroughly trained by his father Johann Sebastian, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach became renowned as a virtuoso harpsichordist and organist. His surviving organ music includes the seven choral preludes and ten fugues on this disc, which range from relatively simple settings to elaborate displays of counterpoint. Born in Rio de Janeiro and based in the USA, Julia Brown, who has made several acclaimed recordings of keyboard music by Buxtehude and Scheidemann for Naxos, has been praised as ‘a first-class artist and superb technician … an exceptionally sensitive stylist’.
Wilhelm Kempff (1895–1991), one of the great piano masters, receives an exceptional tribute from the label with which he was most closely associated. This is a beautiful, limited-edition 35-CD box of Kempff’s complete solo repertoire on DG and Decca Classics. It includes the stereo Beethoven sonata cycle, the Schubert sonata cycle, generous anthologies of Bach, Brahms, Liszt, Schubert, and Schumann – plus Chopin and Baroque. There are many rarities, not readily available at present.
This disc presents one of the 20th century's greatest and most distinctive pianists in music of two pianist-composers, Schumann and Beethoven, who were among his most treasured specialties. The playing is fluent, brilliant without ever being flashy, and phrased and accented with a totally unique flavor. Kempff has power to spare, but he uses it with a restraint that heightens its impact.