Writes critic Donald Manildi in his liner notes: "The distinctive qualities of Kempff's mature musicianship are many and varied. He has been called, with justice, a master of understatement. This observation refers not only to his abhorrence of eccentricities, histrionics, and ostentation; it applies equally to Kempff's preferences for a moderate spectrum of tempo choices wherein fast movements are often taken at less than their maximum limits, and slower sections are never stretched to the extreme lengths to which certain other pianists seem addicted. Similarly, Kempff never forced his instrument into anything resembling tonal ugliness. Instead he cultivated an extraordinary command of the mezzo piano to pianissimo range, enhanced by a variety of touch and a control of subtle nuance that is rare among players of any school or generation. Kempff's avoidance of typically Germanic ponderousness is what imparts the remarkably airborne quality to his phrasing. At the same time his interpretations disclose a unique serenity, a calm unfolding of events no matter what the technical challenges. Indeed, the word "nobility" is the one which is perhaps most often applied to Kempff's musical approach. It must be added that few pianists have Kempff's sense of fresh discovery at every performance, which is all the more exceptional considering the many hundreds of times Kempff played the standard items in his repertoire."
"I can only suggest that those who thirst for true musical genius should invest in this double album without delay. These are rare recordings in every sense."
-Bryce Morrison, Gramophone
"The most exquisite examples of Kempff's art available. I was dumbfounded by their beauty. A transcendent Mozart K 467 from 1939."
-Rob Cowan, Gramophone
"Wilhelm Kempff is on inspired, even daring form…. It is hard not to be seduced by Kempff's ravishing tone and bejeweled passagework…. Remarkable sound for its time…. Kempff fans will find plenty to savor in this welcome release, including Donald Manildi's excellent booklet notes."
-Jed Distler, Classics Today
CD-1071(2) WILHELM KEMPFF: RARE RECORDINGS (1936-1945) from the Collections of Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv and Norddeutscher Rundfunk.
CD 1 (67:19) Recordings from the collection of Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv: 1) (announcer); MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K.467. Großes Leipziger Sinfonie-Orchester, cond. Hans Weisbach (3 April 1939, RRG); BEETHOVEN: Piano concerto No. 5 in Eb Major, Op. 73, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Peter Raabe (1936; from DG 78s LM67082/86).
CD 2 (66:38) Broadcast recordings from Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Hamburg): BACH: Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in d minor (10.10.1945); BACH: from Cantata No. 147. "Wohl mir daß ich Jesum habe," arr. for piano by Kempff (18.8.45) CHOPIN: Berceuse, Op. 57 (10.10.45); CHOPIN: Mazurka in f minor, Op. 7 No. 3 (18.8.45); CHOPIN: Mazurka in C major, Op. 57 No. 2 (18.8.45); CHOPIN: Fantasie Impromptu in c# minor, Op. 66 (10.10.45); Liszt: Au lac de Wallenstadt from Première année of Années de Pèlerinage (18.8.45); Liszt: Eglogue from Première année of Années de Pèlerinage (18.8.45); Liszt: Au bord d'une source from Première année of Années de Pèlerinage (3:43) (18.8.45); Liszt: Il Penseroso from Seconde année of Années de Pèlerinage (18.8.45); Liszt: Sonetto 123 del Petrarca from Seconde année of Années de Pèlerinage (18.8.45); Liszt: Gondoliera from Venezia e Napoli of Années de Pèlerinage (10.10.45); Faure: Nocturne No. 6, Op. 63 (10.10.45).
CD 1-67:19. CD 2-66:38. (A co-production with Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv and Norddeutscher Rundfunk). UPC # 0-17685-10712-2.