This set of performances was originally issued on LPs back in the early 1950s and then issued in 1992 on CD by Deutsche Grammophon Beethoven: Die Klavierkonzerte. It has rarely been out of print and has been uniformly praised throughout all these years. Kempff was a superb interpreter of these concertos, among the best on record. In Concertos 1-4 he uses his own musically apt cadenzas. Although these recordings were made in the 1950s and thus are in mono, the sound is very clear and one is barely aware of their being almost sixty years old. The Dutch conductor, Paul van Kempen, is hardly remembered today but he was prominent from the 1930s to his death in 1955. He suffered some bad publicity because he conducted in Holland during the German occupation while others had refused to conduct or had fled. Still, he was a marvelous conductor and these performances demonstrate that.
There is something odd about this release on United Classics in that only Kempff's name appears on the jewel box or the cover of the enclosed booklet. One has to hunt to find that this is the Berliner Philharmoniker under van Kempen. The rather generic booklet notes confine themselves to an essay about Kempff and were not proofread very accurately; e.g. 'Potsdam', where Kempff lived, is 'Postsdam'). One wonders if this is an unauthorized release. Strangely, or perhaps not, the DG set is still available here at Amazon for a slightly lower price and includes the original liner notes. Thus I am inclined to give the overall release only four stars as opposed to the five stars for the original DG release.