Beethoven: Sonatas Nos. 20 - 26 (Remastered) Wilhelm Kempff

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  • Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1927): Piano Sonata No. 20 in G Major, Op. 49, No. 2:
  • 1Piano Sonata No. 20 in G Major, Op. 49, No. 2: 1. Allegro ma non troppo04:33
  • 2Piano Sonata No. 20 in G Major, Op. 49, No. 2: 2. Tempo di Menuetto03:47
  • Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 "Waldstein":
  • 3Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 "Waldstein": 1. Allegro con brio10:55
  • 4Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 "Waldstein": 2. Introduzione (Adagio molto)03:06
  • 5Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 "Waldstein": 3. Rondo (Allegretto moderato - Prestissimo)09:47
  • Piano Sonata No. 22 in F Major, Op. 54:
  • 6Piano Sonata No. 22 in F Major, Op. 54: 1. In Tempo d'un Menuetto05:45
  • 7Piano Sonata No. 22 in F Major, Op. 54: 2. Allegretto06:17
  • Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata":
  • 8Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata": 1. Allegro assai09:53
  • 9Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata": 2. Andante con moto06:01
  • 10Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata": 3. Allegro ma non troppo08:48
  • Piano Sonata No. 24 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 78 "For Therese":
  • 11Piano Sonata No. 24 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 78 "For Therese": 1. Adagio cantabile - Allegro ma non troppo05:05
  • 12Piano Sonata No. 24 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 78 "For Therese": 2. Allegro vivace03:00
  • Piano Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79:
  • 13Piano Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79: 1. Presto alla tedesca03:12
  • 14Piano Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79: 2. Andante02:41
  • 15Piano Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79: 3. Vivace02:01
  • Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-Flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux":
  • 16Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-Flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux": 1. Das Lebewohl (Adagio - Allegro)07:06
  • 17Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-Flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux": 2. Abwesenheit (Andante espressivo)02:57
  • 18Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-Flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux": 3. Das Wiedersehen (Vivacissimamente)04:17
  • Total Runtime01:39:11

Info for Beethoven: Sonatas Nos. 20 - 26 (Remastered)

Beethoven's creativity as a composer was nurtured at the keyboard. Among his early works, those for solo piano are generally regarded as the most original, pointing the way to new means of expression that he was to develop more consistently after 1800. This helps to explain the difficulty in establishing antecedents for his keyboard style. The most vital features of hispiano works are better explained from within the music itself, rather than as the result of outside influences. The impression made by Wilhelm Kempff'sperformances of Beethoven is that of an embodiment of Beethoven's remark that music must strike fire from the spirit of mankind.

Kempff brought to the Sonatas a sense of fantasy and improvisation. Improvising at the keyboard was Beethoven's passion, and it is scarcely an exaggeration to describe his sonatas as fantasies which he worked out and wrote down, fair copies of piano monologues, improvisations ordered in cogent form.

"At his best, he played more beautifully than any of us." (Alfred Brendel)

"Kempff'sperformances of all the great named sonatas [...] are triumphs of communicative music-making." (Gramophone)

Wilhelm Kempff, piano

Digitally remastered

Wilhelm Kempff
started his career in Postsdam. In 1899 his father was appointed Royal Music Director and Cantor of the Church of St. Nicholas in Jüterbog near Potsdam and with unavoidable interruptions Wilhelm Kempff remained a resident until 1945. In 1931 with his colleagues he drew international musical attention to Potsdam, when the German Music Institute for Foreigners arranged masterclasses for professional performers in the Marmorpalais. Kempff’s courses were, until 1944, extremely popular. In 1945 he left the city, abandoning his property but retaining hope for a unified Germany and a return to Potsdam. Until 1955 he lived in Thurnau, and from then until 1986 in Ammerland on the Starnberger See and in the Italian town of Positano, which gradually became his home and where he settled in 1986. In spite of his busy concert career at home and abroad, his broadcasts and recordings, he did not give up his concerts in Potsdam, which continued after his departure. In 1956 he established in Positano the Potsdam tradition of mastercourses and founded international summer courses for the interpretation of Beethoven.

Less well-known is Wilhelm Kempff’s activity as an organist and as a composer. The foundation of his many-sided musical activity lay in his early years in Potsdam. Even before his first recital as a pianist in the autumn of 1907 in the Barberini Palace he made his début as an organist in the Church of St. Nicholas. He accompanied the choir in a concert of the Church Music Society and played the B minor Prelude from the second part of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and was soon employed as assistant organist, carrying out his duties independently. He acquired a large practical repertoire of organ music, learned from his father and his grandfather, Cantor Friedrick Kempff. Later he declared that the art of organ-playing like that of preaching, could be learned with difficulty, but was better to be passed on from father to son. Organ-playing was for him a living sermon in music. At the age of nine Kempff was awarded two scholarships at the Royal School of Music in Berlin, for the study of the piano with the Royal Court Pianist Heinrich Barth and of composition with Robert Kahn, a follower of Brahms and member of the conservative Berling academic circle. In addition he attended school in Potsdam, sang in the choir of the Church of St. Nicholas and played the organ. He saw no contradiction between playing the organ and playing the piano, like his much admired Ferruccio Busoni. His strict piano teacher warned him, however, that the organ would hinder his progress on the piano, advice that he ignored. In 1914 he completed his studies at the Viktoria Gymnasium and in 1916 completed his composition and piano examinations with distinction, twice winning the Mendelssohn Prize. Thereafter he gave concerts as both pianist and organist. In Sweden in 1918 he appeared primarily as an organist. His piano arrangements of Bach’s organ Chorale Preludes should be seen in the light of this close connection with the two instruments, as well as the free transcriptions of music of the eighteenth century that he published from 1931 in the series Music of the Baroque and Rococo, following the model of d’Albert and Busoni.

Kempff’s ability as a composer was apparent early in life. At the age of six he wrote his first composition, which still exists, entered by his father in the “Red Book”. Various early compositions are in Potsdam or were taken away with him. The entire body of his work as a composer is amazingly varied, including all genres, opera, ballet, oratorio, symphonic and chamber music for various ensembles, compositions for organ and for piano, as well as songs. Unlike the majority of pianist-composers of the past and of today he gradually shifted the emphasis of his work from composition to interpretation; eventually, the pianist prevailed over the composer. In his compositions he avoided incursions into new musical territory. They proceed essentially from melodic ideas, from old German folk-music and the songs and dances of other peoples, with attractive and colourful harmonies in a tonal context. Richly coloured works, evoking a mood, stand side by side with strictly elaborated movements, free rhapsodic writing with traditional forms.

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