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Für Elise: Kempff Transcriptions & Encores

Notes & Reviews:

Kempff's Baroque pedigree stemmed from the influence of his father, also named Wilhelm Kempff, and his grandfather Cantor Friedrick Kempff, both of whom were organists, and who taught the budding prodigy much of the organ's core repertoire. In fact, Kempff's youthful debut as an organist took place before his first recital as a pianist in 1907. With help from the great German violinist Joseph Joachim, the nine-year-old Kempff was awarded two scholarships at the Berlin Hochschule: one in composition with Robert Kahn, the other studying piano with Heinrich Barth, who also taught Arthur Rubinstein. While most of Wilhelm Kempff's recordings were made for Deutsche Grammophon, his early Decca LPs and EPs are collector's items. Here issued internationally on CD for the first time are an LP of his Bach recital coupled with a delicious LP of miniatures by Couperin, Rameau and Beethoven, including the latter's ubiquitous Für Elise. In his fascinating liner notes, Jed Distler compares Kempff's arrangements of Bach with those of Busoni, and his performances with those of Hess and others. 'Für Elise gently soars from Kempff's fingers in full-throated, legato arcs that might convince you that the piano has lungs in addition to hammers and strings,' he writes, and concludes, 'The warm, naturally balanced and timbrally true sonic image typical of Decca's piano recordings of this vintage only enhance Kempff's singular artistry. Whatever one makes of his style, his spirit defines authenticity.' "...excellently recorded programme of arrangements made by Kempff himself..."


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