Rudolf Kempe - Shy Genius of the Podium (11 CD box set, APE)
Rudolf Kempe – Shy Genius of the Podium (11 CD box set, APE)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 11 CD box set
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: EMI
Size: 3.63 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 “Eroica” by Ludwig van Beethoven
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 “Pastoral” by Ludwig van Beethoven
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, in E major Op. 21 by Felix Mendelssohn
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61: Nocturne by Felix Mendelssohn
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61: Nocturne by Felix Mendelssohn
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61: Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Scheherazade, Op. 35 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony no 9 in E minor, Op. 95/B 178 “From the New World” by Antonín Dvorák
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66/B 131 by Antonín Dvorák
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Schwanda the Bagpiper: Polka by Jaromir Weinberger
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Overture by Bedrich Smetana
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Polka by Bedrich Smetana
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Furiant by Bedrich Smetana
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Dance of the Comedians by Bedrich Smetana
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Don Quixote, Op. 35 by Richard Strauss
Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 by Richard Strauss
Dresden Staatskapelle

Salome, Op. 54: Dance of the seven veils by Richard Strauss
Dresden Staatskapelle

Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 by Richard Strauss
Dresden Staatskapelle

Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Dresden Staatskapelle

Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 by Richard Strauss
Dresden Staatskapelle

Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60: Kindskopf! by Richard Strauss
Teresa Zylis-Gara (Soprano), Sylvia Geszty (Soprano)
Dresden Staatskapelle

Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60: An Ihre Plätze, meine Damen und Herren! by Richard Strauss
Gundula Janowitz (Soprano), Teresa Zylis-Gara (Soprano)
Dresden Staatskapelle

Lohengrin: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Lohengrin: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Lohengrin: Treulich geführt “Bridal Chorus” by Richard Wagner
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna State Opera Chorus

Lohengrin: Heil König Heinrich by Richard Wagner
Gottlob Frick (Bass)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Lohengrin: Was bringen die? by Richard Wagner
Gottlob Frick (Bass)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Lohengrin: Mein Herr und Konig by Richard Wagner
Jess Thomas (Tenor), Gottlob Frick (Bass)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Lohengrin: In fernem Land by Richard Wagner
Jess Thomas (Tenor)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Also available:  Karajan Conducts Wagner. Overtures & Preludes (SACD ISO)

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Die “selige Morgentraum-Deutweise” sei sie genannt by Richard Wagner
Ferdinand Frantz (Bass Baritone), Gerhard Unger (Tenor), Marga Höffgen (Alto),
Rudolf Schock (Tenor), Elisabeth Grümmer (Soprano)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Zwischenspiel – Sankt Krispin, lobet ihn by Richard Wagner
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus, Berlin State Opera Chorus …

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Ihr tanzt? Was werden die Meister sagen? by Richard Wagner
Gerhard Unger (Tenor)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Morgenlich leuchtend by Richard Wagner
Elisabeth Grümmer (Soprano), Rudolf Schock (Tenor), Ferdinand Frantz (Bass Baritone),
Gottlob Frick (Bass)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Verachtet mir die Meister by Richard Wagner
Rudolf Schock (Tenor), Elisabeth Grümmer (Soprano), Marga Höffgen (Alto),
Gerhard Unger (Tenor), Ferdinand Frantz (Bass Baritone), Gottlob Frick (Bass)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod by Richard Wagner
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Parsifal: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Parsifal: Good Friday Music by Richard Wagner
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Hänsel und Gretel: Overture by Engelbert Humperdinck
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Hänsel und Gretel: Hexenritt “Witch’s ride” by Engelbert Humperdinck
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Hänsel und Gretel: The Gingerbread House by Engelbert Humperdinck
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Hänsel und Gretel: The Witch’s Waltz by Engelbert Humperdinck
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Hänsel und Gretel: Dream pantomime by Engelbert Humperdinck
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

L’Amico Fritz: Intermezzo by Pietro Mascagni
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

La Gioconda: Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Notre Dame: Act 1 Intermezzo by Franz Schmidt
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Faust: Waltz by Charles Gounod
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Die Puppenfee: Ballet music by Joseph Bayer
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Orphée aux enfers: Overture by Jacques Offenbach
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Ero the Joker: Kolo by Jakov Gotovac
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Rosamunde, D 797/Op. 26: no 1, Overture (D 644) by Franz Schubert
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Rosamunde, D 797/Op. 26: no 7, Entr’acte no 3 in B flat major by Franz Schubert
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Rosamunde, D 797/Op. 26: no 11, Ballet music no 2 in G major by Franz Schubert
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Orfeo ed Euridice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits by Christoph W. Gluck
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Die Fledermaus: Overture by Johann Strauss Jr.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald, Op. 325 by Johann Strauss Jr.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Leichtes Blut, Op. 319 by Johann Strauss Jr.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Geheime Anziehungskräfte, Op. 173 “Dynamiden” by Josef Strauss
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Indigo und die vierzig Räuber: Tausend und eine Nacht, Op. 346 by Johann Strauss Jr.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Im Krapfenwaldl, Op. 336 by Johann Strauss Jr.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437 by Johann Strauss Jr.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Sphären-Klänge, Op. 235 by Josef Strauss
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Radetzky March, Op. 228 by Johann Strauss Sr.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Also available:  Toscanini: Beethoven - Symphony no.9 in D-minor, op.125 "Choral" (FLAC)

Gold und Silber, Op. 79 by Franz Lehár
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

An excellent overview of an admired conductor

Rudolf Kempe remains a widely admired conductor, mostly due to the successful series of Richard Strauss recordings he made in the 1970s with the Staatskapelle Dresden (a number of those recordings are presented in this collection). He recorded quite extensively for EMI, including a complete Beethoven cycle in Munich, of which Symphonies 1, 3, 5 & 6 are included here.

The nice thing about this 11-CD set is the inclusion of a lot of repertoire that isn’t always associated with Kempe, and that can be hard to find. This includes his 1957 recording of the New World with the Berlin Philharmonic and a fair number of recordings with the Royal Philharmonic (of which he was music director), including Scheherazade, Brahms 4, Mendelssohn’s Midsummer music and a host of light classical favorites. The set also includes two full discs with the Vienna Philharmonic – a disc of opera intermezzi and a disc of Strauss waltzes.

The excellent program notes run to 5 pages, and provide a comprehensive background on Kempe’s career and his recording periods.

Sound is excellent overall.

Recommended.

DREAM CONDUCTOR FOR AN ORCHESTRAL MUSICIAN

It’s hard to find any musician with a bad thing to say about Rudolf Kempe. In the notes accompanying these discs, Elgar Howarth is quoted as saying, “He was the dream conductor for an orchestral player. He knew exactly what orchestras needed.”

Certainly the evidence on these 11 discs bears witness to a rare ability to make everything he did sound absolutely natural, absolutely right for that moment in time. He was the master of that quality that Wagner prized so highly – the Art of Transition. Just listen to the dark-to-light transition from Scherzo to Finale in his Beethoven Fifth: or the magical emergence of the second subject in the First Movement of Brahms Third: or any number of those difficult tempo changes in the Strauss waltzes on the final disc.

His recordings of the complete Richard Strauss orchestral works from the 70’s are justly famous and there are several examples included here, though the Don Quixote (also with Tortelier) is the earlier, even finer Berlin version from 1958. His Wagner, too, has always been held in high esteem for its lyricism and often chamber-like delicacy. Here are extracts from the complete recordings of Lohengrin and Meistersinger. The former – still the benchmark recording of this fascinating transition from Grand Opera to Music Drama in Wagner’s output – concentrates on Act 3: the first scene of Act 2 (the last to be written) might have done even better with its masterly conducting of the emergence of full-blown music-drama and the blistering, superbly characterised singing of Ludwig and Fischer-Dieskau. Were it not for the somewhat dated sound quality, this Meistersinger might still come very close to a top recommendation. Here is around half an hour of the highlights of Act 3, including a wonderful Quintet, led off by the pearl-like purity of Elisabeth Grummer’s soprano. There are also the less well known, but equally revealing Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Prelude and Good Friday Music from Parsifal with the Vienna Philharmonic in top form (around the time of Solti’s Rheingold).

Kempe as a conductor of the core classical repertoire is perhaps less well remembered today, though I have fond memories of hearing many of these pieces in his time as Beecham’s chosen successor as Chief Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic in the unlikely setting of the Odeon Cinema in Swiss Cottage. Here are four Beethoven symphonies (all with the Munich Philharmonic), including a fiery Fifth and a beautifully crafted Pastoral with another magical transition from the Storm into the Shepherd’s Song. Brahms 3 and 4 reminded me a little of Boult’s performances from around the same time in their masterly integration of form with style – proper Brahms, this, and never late, late Beethoven. There are no First Movement repeats, of course – this was before the authentic brigade had got as far as this repertoire; nor is there in Dvorak’s New World which shows off his great empathy with Czech music – not very New World, much more Bohemian. This is the earliest recording on these discs and a little raw at the edges in sound quality. That wonderful instinct with Czech music is equally evident in Dvorak’s Scherzo Capriccioso and the Bartered Bride Suite.

The Viennese lollipops on Disc 10 are engaging and include a couple of rarities in Josef Bayer’s Puppenfee ballet music and the Kolo from Ero, the Joker by Gotovac. But the final disc of Strauss Waltzes (plus Lehar’s Gold and Silver) shows the real strength of this music. Not as self-indulgent as a Barbirolli, a Boskowski or a Kleiber pere, Kmepe makes us realise why Johann Strauss was such an unlikely favourite of Wagner – especially his masterful Kaiserwaltz which emerges here as the true masterpiece it is.

In the Uk, this Icon series from EMI is rapidly becoming a wonderfully cheap way of acquiring a whole range of marvelous performances from the archives – conductors, singers, violinists and pianists alike. For reasons that escape me, it seems to be much more expensive in the US. Nevertheless, the Kempe edition is a very special addition to the series.

7 Comments

  1. Just fabulous, Whatever;
    I’m learning there are hardly any bounds to your musical output.
    I’m overly impressed and grateful: thank you and thank you and ever thank you.
    Bob

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