In the 1950s these recordings would have given a very up-to-date impression, I imagine; the playing is extremely clean there's never a hint of sentimental violin slides or over-use of the sustaining pedal. But nearly half a century later, perhaps we're more conscious of the old-world virtues Schneiderhan's beautiful legato bowing and gentle vibrato, Kempff's full, unforced tone, and a flexible approach from both artists, with finely graded ritardandos and subtle variations of tempo.
Before anything else is said, it has to be admitted that the 1963 recording with Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter is beyond all argument the greatest set of Beethoven's cello sonatas ever recorded. Nevertheless, for the single best recording of Beethoven's cello sonata, it should be this 1965 recording by Pierre Fournier and Wilhelm Kempff. Because while Rostropovich and Richter are the greater virtuosos, their virtuosity is also inevitably the prism through which Beethoven's music radiates and his music is colored by their virtuosity.
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.
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.
Deutsche Grammophon proudly presents the most authoritative Schubert project ever made, featuring all the masterpieces in timeless recordings plus many rare gems that manifest Schuberts genius.
This first edition comprehensively covers Schuberts vast orchestral, chamber and piano output, containing all the masterworks in definitive recordings by legendary artists: Abbado (symphonies), Kempff (piano sonatas), Melos Quartett (string quartets & string quintet the latter with Rostropovich), Pires (piano works), Gidon Kremer (violin works) Beaux Arts Trio (trios).
Menuhin and Kempff seem in just about total agreement about how to play these sonatas: with enough attack to project their dramatic moments in a domestic context, and with enough repose to show their lyrical moments in the very best of lights.
The very best of Deutsche Grammophon’s piano recordings on 40 CDs, limited edition. From Aimard (The Art of Fugue) to Zimerman (his prize-winning Debussy Preludes on 1 CD for the first time), comprising all the great names – Argerich, Barenboim, Michelangeli, Gilels, Haskil, Horowitz, Kempff, Kissin, Pogorelich, Pollini, Richter; and the new names – Blechacz, Grimaud, Lang Lang, Trifonov, Yuja Wang, Yundi – this is the ideal set to form the cornerstone of a piano collection.