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Mussorgsky: Pictures from an Exhibition; Ravel, Balakirev / Freddy Kempf

Album Summary

>Mussorgsky, Modest : Pictures at an exhibition
>Ravel, Maurice : Gaspard de la nuit
>Balakirev, Mily : Oriental Fantasy for Piano, Op. 18 "Islamey"
Performer Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Import Hybrid-SACD pressing.

The Times
The pianist Freddy Kempf looks poetic and serious on the cover photo. He's also straining for effect in these performances. In the Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition he settles too quickly for the brilliance that screams and thumps. There's some of that, too, in the finale to Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit, though the hanged man in Le Gibet is barely sensed. Still, he can be subtle, and Balakirev's Islamey, the virtuoso's nightmare, comes off well.

The Guardian
Freddy Kempf's forthright performances of all three [works] contain some impressive moments, and his mastery of the technical challenges in the works is formidable, but in each case individuality and character are in short supply. There's plenty of colour in Pictures, and a high degree of characterisation, but little of the physicality and teetering excitement that Richter's famous live recording has in bucketfuls, while the subtly shifting textures of Ravel's three fantasy portraits are too prosaic for music that should glimmer and glitter in an almost intangible and indefinable way.

The Telegraph
Freddy Kempf here tackles three giants of the piano repertoire and conquers them with spirit and imagination. Armed with all the necessary technical resources, he is able to bring colour and well-defined character to Pictures from an Exhibition, revealing how ingeniously Mussorgsky exploited the piano's palette of sound without the aid of all those later arrangers who chose to embellish it with orchestral timbres. One of those was Ravel, whose Gaspard de la nuit here glows, ripples and, in "Scarbo", bristles with malevolence. The bravura of Balakirev's Islamey is brilliant.

BBC Music Magazine
For fans of the contemporary virtuoso, this disc is not only stupendously recorded, but a sign that standards these days are extraordinarily high in this area.

Gramophone Magazine
A formidable programme formidably played. This is "live" virtuosity with a vengeance, with absolutely no hint of a safety net, of playing within studio confines.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
After a perhaps necessary break Freddy Kempf returns to the studio armed with a formidable programme formidably played. In the Mussorgsky his immense energy and facility allows him an unusual degree of freedom with a brisk opening Promenade followed by an unleashing of his virtuoso credentials in 'Gnomus'. He takes a uniformly forte view of 'Bydlo' (though his final fading of the vision is masterly). And so, too, is his enviable verve in both 'Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks' and 'Limoges'. 'Baba Yaga' is boldly characterised, and there is a dramatic splash of colour, a sudden pedal haze at 1'12" in 'The Great Gate of Kiev'... This is 'live' virtuosity with a vengeance, with absolutely no hint of a safety net, of playing within studio confines. A superb, brilliant-toned Steinway has been captured in admirable sound, and this recital is among the finest of Freddy Kempf's offerings to date.



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Works Details

>Mussorgsky, Modest : Pictures at an exhibition
  • Performer: Freddy Kempf (Piano)
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1874

>Ravel, Maurice : Gaspard de la nuit
  • Performer: Freddy Kempf (Piano)
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1908

>Balakirev, Mily : Oriental Fantasy for Piano, Op. 18 "Islamey"
  • Performer: Freddy Kempf (Piano)
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1869/1902