I had read many reviews over the years that asserted that Kempff's mono recordings of the Beethoven concertos, made in 1953, were preferable to his stereo remakes with Leitner. I had bought the stereo CD of nos. 4 and 5 and had been disappointed by the tone, balance and playing, though I attributed some of my disappointment to the remastering. Well, I got a chance to pick up on sale ($12.00 for 5 discs!) the box of 1950's concerto performances, and it's true -- they ARE better. First of all, the balance with orchestra is just right (van Kempen an excellent conductor here, and the Berlin Phil. again), and while the orchestral sound shows its age a bit, the piano sound is very good, and Kempff's playing is marvelous -- clear, bright, witty or soulful as needed. It'a really distinguished account of the Beethoven concertos. What was equally gratifying, though, was to hear the Brahms First, with Konwitschny and the Dresden Staatskapelle, from 1957 -- it has the most powerful orchestral introduction I've ever heard -- big, solid, intense: I was wrung out even before Kempff entered. When he did, the balance with the orchestra was again fine, and his playing was unshowily lucid, with power and grace beautifully combined. The Liszt items were recorded in London in 1955, and here both orchestra and soloist seem further back in the aural picture -- a pity, for the playing and phrasing from both orchestra and soloist are very lively. Kempff brings great spirit to the animato sections, and Fistoulari and the London Symphony are alert to the shifts and adjustments in the music. The distancing, however, robs some of Kempff's soft playing of its tonal sweetness, and the prolonged trill in the first part of the second movement of the First Concerto sound a bit rattly. Still, there's a lot to enjoy. There are still some items I have to play -- Schumann, Mozart -- but I've heard enough to recommend this box and to believe what they say about Kempff in the 1950's.