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Kempff: Chamber Music / Quartetto Raro

Release Date: 10/05/2018 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 95629  
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The pianist Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991) belonged to that tradition of German musicians – notably including conductors such as Furtwangler, Klemperer and Walter – for whom composition hardly less essential a component of their musical personalities than performing, even if it was an activity they largely undertook privately. Working day to day with imperishable masterworks by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, they did not expect to meet such standards, yet their own creative voices required an outlet through more than recreation of others. Left cold by the musical innovations and developments of their own time in the work of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, they wrote in a heightened Romantic idiom, and in genres – especially song and chamber music – Read more which lay separately from their own professional activity as performers. Both chamber works presented here date from Kempff’s youth. The Piano Trio was composed in 1911, when Kempff was 16, and bears a clear Brahmsian influence in thematic conduct and emotional landscape, through the guidance of Kempff’s teacher Robert Kahn, who had himself been a student of Brahms. The Quartet is scored for the more unusual combination of flute, violin, cello and piano. It dates from 1920, and was composed on the island of Capri during a period of recuperation from a serious illness which had laid him low during a concert tour of Sweden. Thus the second movement is based on a Swedish folk theme and the finale ends with a whirlin Tarantella di Taormina, in the tradition exemplified by Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’ Symphony of German musicians letting Italian sunshine into their work. The Quartet is led by the flautist Ginevra Petrucci. Now based in the US, Petrucci has made several well-received recordings for Brilliant Classics, among them Romantic-era concertos by Briccialdi and a ‘winning’ (MusicWeb International) album of chamber music by the Polish-US immigrant Robert Muczynski. Read less

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Worth a Listen October 17, 2018 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "Wilhelm Kempff is best remembered as a piano virtuoso. But he was also a composer. This release features two youthful chamber works. The Trio in G minor for violin, cello, and piano dates from 1911, when Kempff was studying composition with a former student of Brahms. The lineage is easy to hear. Kempff develops his thematic material in the same fashion as Brahms. There are not extra-musical associations here. Like Brahms, Kempff develops his motifs in a methodical, logical fashion. At times the piano seems to have an oil and water relationship with the strings. Granted, Kempff was only sixteen when he wrote this trio. I was a little surprised, though, at the somewhat pedestrian nature of the piano's music. I was expecting a little more from the composer writing for his own instrument (even a very young composer). Rather than three equal voices, many times I heard strings plus piano accompaniment. More successful is the 1920 Quartet in G major for flute, violin, cello, and piano. Kempff had completed his studies and was touring as a concert pianist. The piano writing is much more fully realized, and decidedly more interesting. And one can hear Kempff's overall growth as a composer. The instruments are more fully integrated, with every instrument contributing equally. The material Kempff works with seems more fully developed, too. Kempff does more with his thematic material in this work, breaking motifs down to their component parts and reassembling them in interesting ways. The Quartetto Raro performs well, but I had a problem with the blend. I'm not sure if its the way the ensemble was recorded, or the way they played. For most of the recording I heard the instruments as individual voices, but seldom blending as an ensemble. I'd call this a good but not great recording of good but not great chamber music. I love exploring the repertoire, so I enjoyed this release. If my caveat doesn't put you off, you may as well." Report Abuse
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