Freddy Kempf plays Beethoven
CD is now available at these sites, with track detail.
EXCERPTS FROM CD AND RELATED REVIEWS
====INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW, June 2001====
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Op.109, 110, 111
Review by Jed Distler
The world is not exactly bereft of recordings of Beethoven's last three
piano sonatas. But when a new edition appears, so beautifully played and
perceptively interpreted as Freddy's Kempf's third solo disc for BIS, to
say nothing of its splendid recording quality, you don't worry about the
I expect this highly regarded 23-year-old pianist will
encounter a 'show me' attitude from seasoned critics who've beard all the
great Beethoven players, and man their posts with barbed pencils and
dog-eared Urtexts at the ready. They'll scrutinize Kempf's late Beethoven
with a fine-tooth comb, comparing him with Schnabel, Brendel, Goode,
Arrau, Solomon and Kempff with two 'f's. As well they should, for Freddy
Kempf more than merely holds his own in such august company.
I wonder if Kempf has lived longest with Sonata No. 30, whose
improvisatory opening unfolds in a tellingly proportioned manner. Even the
occasional inverted dynamic sounds convincingly Beethoven-like (a subito
piano upbeat to bar 63 rather than a sforzando). Although he doesn't
differentiate Beethoven's legato versus non-legato articulations in the
second movement to the extent that Charles Rosen or Annie Fischer do, he
compensates with scrupulous and richly coloured chord voicings in the
third- movement theme and variations. The fifth variation's woodwind-like
writing is energetically contoured, as are Beethoven's patented long
My only nits to pick with Kempf's songful fluidity throughout the lyrical
Op. 110 Sonata are the outsized dynamic contrasts in the Allegro molto's
opening measures, which lessen the impact of the first fortissimo just a
few bars on. At the same time Kempf is one of the few pianists who honours
left-hand sforzando displacements (bars 9-13) without any weakening of the
important right-hand melodic downbeats. Among modern versions, I'd rate
this performance on the same level with Richter's later interpretations
and Awadagin Pratt's underrated one on EMI (currently unavailable).
Some may prefer their Op. 111 introduction slower and starker, with more
anguish in the rising chain of suspensions, though Kempf's headlong sweep
and effortless fingerwork in the Allegro con brio more than compensate.
The pianist navigates the Arietta's epic seas on a solid, even keel, but
doesn't entirely give himself over to the movement's jazzier abandon and
obsessed rhythms. Still and all, Kempf emerges more than ever on this disc
as his own master. A truly admirable release, highly recommended.
- Jed Distler
====SUNDAY TIMES (UK), June 10, 2001====
THIS RECORDING by the Classical Brit award-winning Freddy Kempf of the
last three sonatas vies with the best of the recent releases.
Kempf plays a
rather aggressive-sounding and closely recorded Yamaha instrument, but his
touch has finesse, and he elicits a vast range of colours from the
Perhaps the most demanding passage in the three works is the
slow, quiet, transcendent music towards the end of the Arietta of Op 111,
where long trills further complicate the already rhythmically complex
part-writing. Kempf's playing here has astonishing clarity. When the music
is brasher, the going outwardly tougher, as in the final Fugue of Op 110,
his strength of finger really tells.
But success in these works is not
just a matter of technique, and Kempf shows that he has the vision to take
us with him all the way on these three extraordinary, still very
- Stephen Pettitt
====SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (UK) July 22, 2001====
Review by Michael Kennedy
Kempf is still only 24 and one may presume, if he follows the precedent of
other pianists, that he will record these sonatas several times in the
course of his career as his view of them perhaps subtly changes.
his interpretations have a rich maturity and are presented here with a
particularly beautiful recording of piano tone. The piano is still the
most difficult instrument to record faithfully and the BIS sound engineers
have excelled themselves in Stockholm's former Academy of Music.
insight into the character of each of these Olympian masterpieces is
astonishing and is allied to formidable virtuosity and musicianship. It is
perhaps in Op.110 that he proclaims himself a Beethoven interpreter of the
front rank by his judgment of tempo variation and overall command of what
is an especially complex and challenging structure. His playing of the
fugal passages is magisterial in its combination of intellectual and
- Michael Kennedy
(1) Kreisler arr. by Rachmaninov for piano - Liebesleid (from live performance) and
(2) Schumann Warum from live performance
Photo courtesy of Meridian TV
"Another of Kreisler's original pieces for violin and piano, one
of a pair (the other being Liebesfreud), is Leibesleid, which
sums up the soul of old Vienna - not as a large concert-waltz
in the manner of the Strauss dynasty, but as an intimate,
gentle reminiscence. It is marked to be played in the style of
the Austrian (or German) Lšndler, an old dance in slowish 3/4
time, which many believe was the forerunner of the waltz, with
which it shares certain similarities. In any event, Kreisler's
delightfully languorous piece, with its evocative and dreamy
ending, is a magnificent composition of its type, a perfect gem
of the composer's craft."
- Robert Matthew-Walker
Liebeslied mp3 - streaming or download
Warum mp3 - streaming or download
CD Availability: Here are direct links to online CD shops which carry the album, with track detail. Tower promises quick delivery.
Why my Freddy Kempf pages?
======= Recent articles online =======
THIS SECTION TO BE UPDATED SOON
May 25, 2000: Interview with Freddy Kempf, by AmazonUK
April 25, 2000: Interview with Freddy Kempf, by Mark Bridle of MusicWeb.
"Meeting Freddy Kempf can be a humbling experience. Not yet 23, he is already well on his way to becoming a pianist of considerable greatness (his new Rachmaninov disc is very fine indeed)..."
Bridle also does a comparison-review of Kissin and Kempf in recent live performances of Beethoven Concertos.
April 19, 2000: Review of Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 in concert, by Geoffrey Norris for The Telegraph.
"FREDDY KEMPF'S performance of Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto
in this Royal Philharmonic Orchestra programme was the complete
antidote to the austerely manufactured one of the Third
Concerto, also at the Barbican, that Evgeny Kissin had given
with the Philharmonia a couple of nights earlier. There was a
communicative vitality here, a true dialogue between piano and
orchestra and an engagingly youthful ardour..."
Freddy Kempf's Schumann CDCD cover illustration: Copyright © Hywel Jones, for BIS
Freddy's Rachmaninov CD
His Chopin CD
Small encore photo, courtesy of MeridianTV