Monday, 9 December 2013

Wilhelm Kempff

Being driven in either a bus, a taxi or a car, there are times when one sits back relaxed and confident. Then there are times when one winces and tenses on frequent occasions. It depends on your feelings about the driver. Thus, for me, with soloists and conductors in music. Either you feel at ease and bask in the music; or you tense up.

The parallel occurred to me listening to Wilhelm Kempff playing Mozart in the 1960s and 1970s. When Kempff is playing Mozart, you suspend your critical faculties and anxieties and just sit back and enjoy the music and the playing. On a double CD pack, Kempff plays the 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th piano concertos, plus the youthful No.8. Performances I have known for around forty years, and still enjoy immensely.

My double CD pack arrived (at a cheap price) from Kentucky in America, courtesy of Amazon and prompted nostalgia for the days when I would browse LP racks (later CD racks) in large classical records emporia starting with my home towns, then London, then Paris, then New York, then San Francisco, then Vienna. One would return with treasures; my original Ginette Neveu Angel LP was hunted down for me by a much grumbling sister on a visit to New York, a city where I also later hunted down LPs of the (then) rare Michael Rabin (accompanied by a much grumbling daughter). In Vienna I hunted down Russian Leonid Kogan LPs. Those were the days. Hunting today is just mouse clicking, and I acquired my new transfers of the Kempff Mozart recordings from Kentucky via four mouse clicks. Times change.

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