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Beethoven Kempe Symphonies


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Stately. There are opinions both ways about Kempe's interpretation. Those who are used to Karajan's rocket-fuelled pace will find it slow. But his interpretation of the 9th is masterly, in my view. Not as slow as Klemperer, and not a constant pace - Kempe varies the pace quite significantly depending on context, which is why it works for me.

IMHO

Craig

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Stately. There are opinions both ways about Kempe's interpretation. Those who are used to Karajan's rocket-fuelled pace will find it slow. But his interpretation of the 9th is masterly, in my view. Not as slow as Klemperer, and not a constant pace - Kempe varies the pace quite significantly depending on context, which is why it works for me.

IMHO

Craig

Thanks Craig. Is Kempe your preferred reference or just an alternative?

Sorry, trying to make up my mind on the Esoteric box set which isn't cheap :)

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These are solid, middle of the road interpretations; but not the best Beethoven to be bought.

These are the EMI recordings done shortly before Kempe's passing in 1976.

And the Munich Philharmonic is not the best orchestra Germany has to offer; but this is arguably one of Kempe's best efforts with them during his ten year tenure as their conductor.

This Estoeric release is produced by Motoaki Ohmachi, and engineered by Kazuie Sugimoto at the JVC Mastering Center in Yokohama, so the AQ won't suck.

But considering that these cost 3 bills American, you can probably do better.

That is, unless you have a fetish for Japenese imports.

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Well, I wouldn't say Kempe in preference to other Beethoven interpretations. Karl Bohm, Otto Klemperer, Rudolf Kempe and Herbert von Karajan are all equally valid interpretations. Even Karajan's different recordings of the Beethoven symponies are distinctly different. It is a bit like chosing the "best" interpreter of Wagner's Ring Cycle. The fun is in listening to all the masters and comparing and contrasting. Like Schwartzkopf's two recording of Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs, which are also quite different.

About the only exception for me is the superb cello of Jacqueline du Pre. In particular the Brahms concertos for piano and cello with Bareboim on piano. The two had the hottest love affair, even when married, to the extent they had to be taken to task on long haul flights for getting too dirty. All that passion comes across in the Brahms. After listening to that even old masters like Rostropovich sound just too clinical. The next best du Pre is the Elgar cello concerto with Barbirolli. Barbirolli was a cellist himself, and performed the Elgar at its premier under Elgar's baton. So the du Pre/Barbirolli is the closest you can get to the intention of Elgar. And finally the stunnng Trout, with Du pre, Barenboim, Itzak Perlmann, and Zubin Mehta (on double bass) - actually a video recording in 1970.

Looking at the price of Kempe's Beethoven symphonies it isn't so very bad, considering the actual number of discs and hours of music.

Incidentally, I hit paydirt last week. I cruise the local charity shops, who specialise in house clearances and estate sales. I picked up Pavarotti, Freni and Guiraov in Boheme, Pavarotti and Sutherand in La traviata, Two Gounod operas (I don't know Gounod's stuff at all), and a four disc set of 1940's recitals by Jussi Bjorling. All absolutely pristine - for £10 (say $16).

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playing Beethoven's tempo marks is a big part of it.

Agreed. Beehoven was about the first to put metronome marks in his music to indicate the pace. That is why Klemperer sounds too slow, and Karajan sounds like he is nitro fuelled. But I'll hazard a bet that Beethoven did not rigorously follow the MM's himself in concert. And the piano sonatas and string quartets would sound deathly dull if they were taken at a regular pace.

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I can get the set for roughly $200 after currency conversion, but still not cheap for 5 discs. The other Esoteric discs I own sound excellent, so I have no doubt this will even if the DSD is sourced from 24/96 pcm.

Craig you've convinced me to pick it up since I am so used to Karajan. And it's already OOP.

WRT to the piano sonatas, I went on a bender with those sampling a bunch of performances through the dirt cheap CDs on Amazon and settled on Annie Fischer's.

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yup

Barenboim's Piano is consistently wretched. That is all for now.

Check. His real saving grace was his outstanding two Brahms piano/cello sonatas with du Pre - but that was as much to do with their personal physical passion translating into the musical performance. But Barenboim's other recordings just don't cut the mustard. Like Julian Loyd Weber's soulless cello. But different pianists excel with particular composers - Brendel's Beethoven interpretations for example, or Periah's hatered of Liszt (he has never recorded a single Liszt piece) and superb Schubert and Chopin.

Reks - I'll definitely try the Gardiner set - cheers

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  • 3 years later...
  • 2 years later...

Did you ever end up finding a copy? 

Lots of article on Beethoven's crazy tempo markings, apparently one theory is that his metronome was broken (with some differential equations!): www.ams.org/notices/201309/rnoti-p1146.pdf Does that mean Schnabel's dogged adherence to the marked tempi was all in vain? 

https://www.sim.spk-berlin.de/en/_5_Autograph_Tempo_in_Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier_Sonata”_1321.html

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Did you ever end up finding a copy? 
Lots of article on Beethoven's crazy tempo markings, apparently one theory is that his metronome was broken (with some differential equations!): www.ams.org/notices/201309/rnoti-p1146.pdf Does that mean Schnabel's dogged adherence to the marked tempi was all in vain? 
https://www.sim.spk-berlin.de/en/_5_Autograph_Tempo_in_Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier_Sonata”_1321.html


I did! Interesting stuff. I will give them a spin tonite for ya!
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