Notes & Reviews:
The audio recording of the Dvorák 9 from this Kempe DVD has been released on BBC Legends, and was a Penguin Guide Rosette Winner. In this performance of Strauss, we witness Kempe's mastery in securing issues of 'structure, atmosphere and emotional intensity' (David Patmore), along with his 'unfailing musicality'.
This year has seen the emergence of ICA Classics as a major independent label with access to some fascinating archive material. This DVD is one of their very best. Kempe was an expert Straussian and his live Heldenleben is, all told, as good as his famous Dresden account, making up in spontaneity anything it lacks in polish. The Dvorak 9 is a revelation - the most impetuous, red blooded performance since Dorati's famous Concertgebouw recording for Philips.
The Scherzo pulses with positively Brucknerian energy, and the inflection of the Trio's sad song is surely influenced by the same part of Schubert's "Great" C major. That mix of impetuosity and insistence spills over into the uncompromising tragedy of the finale. Kempe never lets you forget that this is a symphony in E minor, like Brahms's last...
American Record Guide
The Dvorak gets a big, bold, yet carefully balanced and paced interpretation. Kempe's account is plenty animated, but he refrains from stirring up frenzy just to add excitement... the video production is very fine, with exceptionally vivid color... this is a superb opportunity to see him making the music with the orchestra he worked with for so many years. You won't really hear anything much different from what we know in the studio recordings, but the visual element adds something for us who are too young to have seen Kempe in person.
Kempe uses a fairly small baton, even a little smaller than Toscanini's but not as tiny as the toothpicks that Strauss and Reiner used. His arms are a little further apart than Toscanini's, but he is only slightly more animated on the podium, his arms moving in graceful arcs. Only a few months after the Dvorßk performance came the shocking announcement that Kempe had died. I can remember that moment as if it were yesterday; it grieved me more than you can imagine. He had a very special gift, sought by many but bestowed on few, and we are all the poorer for his untimely passing.
This new DVD, then, preserves some superb performances. The direction - originally for BBC TV - is expert and thus almost entirely unobtrusive, the visual image - in colour throughout - is sharp and pleasing and the sound is more than acceptable. It offers an opportunity to acquaint or reacquaint oneself with a conductor of the highest calibre, performing live and at the peak of his abilities.
Run Time: 89 min.
Picture Format: NTSC, 4:3
Sound Format(s): LPCM Mono,
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Works DetailsStrauss, Richard : Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
- Conductor: Rudolf Kempe
- Ensemble: Royal Philharmonic Orchesta
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Orchestral
- Written: 1897-1898
Antonín Dvorák (1841 - 1904) : Symphony no 9 in E minor, Op. 95/B 178 "From the New World"
- Period Time: Romantic
- Form: Orchestral
- Written: 1893