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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kempff and Beethoven piano sonatas: a special treat, 15 Mar 2010
By 
A. Zona - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
I find this complete collection of the Beethoven 32 piano sonatas a special treat. I also own the beautiful complete set by Wilhelm Backhaus (Decca), selected sonatas by Arthur Rubinstein (Rubinstein Collection Vol. 56), selected sonatas by Daniel Barenboim (EMI Great Recordings), the stunning late piano sonatas by Maurizio Pollini (DG) and some other interpretations. Having highly enjoyed other recordings by Wilhelm Kempff (Schubert complete piano sonatas on DG and Beethoven piano concertos with the Berliner directed by Leitner on DG) I couldn't resist and took this complete set of the Kempff 1965-65 stereo recordings (there is another DG set with Kempff 1951-56 mono recordings at a higher price). Kempff readings of these sonatas are really interesting and intriguing, very different from Backhaus, Rubinstein and many other interpretations, with less tension and more serenity, slower moments more focused on lyricism rather than energy and impact, a sort of "more normal" Beethoven that does not impress right away but slowly seduces. You might like or not the way Kempff approaches these masterpieces and at first you might be disoriented if used to other more energetic interpretations. Anyway, I believe that if you grant this set enough listening time you will be rewarded by some magical musical moments, as has happened to me.

Recorded sound is fairly good, with a warm and natural sound. Some tape hiss when turning up the volume reminds you the age of the recording, but nothing to be really worried about. The package is the usual cardboard box with cardboard sleeves for each CD. Inside also a 20-page booklet with detailed recording information, a pair of black and white pictures of Kempff, short liner notes in English, German and French about the pianist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best Beethoven I have heard, 21 July 2013
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This review is from: Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
I have quite a few other CD's of pianists playing Beethoven (Brendel, Zechlin, Arrau, Schnabel...), but this box set has become one of my favourite. Kempff play with great musicality without any 'key thumping'. I like comparing them with his earlier mono recordings. The difference is fascinating. It is amazing what can change in only a few years.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A master pianist but not his greatest achievement, 15 Nov 2011
This review is from: Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
I grew up listening to many of Kempff's stereo versions of Beethoven piano sonatas - I loved them. Years have passed and as I listen to them again, I find them not altogether rewarding. To ears that have experienced Richter in the Storm, Arrau in the Pathetique, Ashkenazy in the Appassionata, Rubinstein in the Moonlight and Pollini in the last three (to say nothing of numerous others), Kempff sounds underpowered to me, especially when Beethoven is raising a storm worthy of Zeus. I appreciate other reviewers' comments about the clarity and serenity he brings in much of what he touches, but I want more passion, more stress and more grandeur in my Beethoven. I also increasingly get irritated by smudged notes, which one would easily forgive in more 'risky' or hell for leather performances. Kempff was undoubtedly a great artist - I attended a couple of his Festival Hall performances and have wonderful memories of him playing Mozart's piano concertos and Schubert piano sonatas. I must also say that I have not heard his earlier mono recordings that many regard as superior to this set - I would not however place this complete set above others, especially Arrau, Ashkenazy and Barenboim.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch classic recording and excellent product, 7 Nov 2013
By 
Miss M. Potter "marcia" (england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
Beethoven has always been a likeable composer for me and his Piano Sonatas are in excellent hands here on this wonderful product. And as a product it is just great on every level. The music itself of course is really excellent. Kempff offers such a warm and humanly expressive version of these sonatas.
The recordings are more than just academic achievements. They are wonderful interpretations of the sonatas that the listener can completely engage with in a very introspective, personal and moving way.
These recordings date from the 1960s and Kempff had recorded the complete cycle of Beethoven Sonatas before in the 1950s but this version is easily a great version. The 32 piano sonatas are presented here on this magnificent set over eight discs.
Beethoven created the sonatas over many years and throughout his life as a composer. It is interesting to see how they developed over the years by working your way through the set. They are all here. There are the well known sonatas such as the Pathetique and the Moonlight as well as the equally good less known pieces.
Everything is presented in a beautiful way with each of the eight discs contained in a card sleeve. These are all contained in a smart box that is less than one inch thick. There is a good booklet included too,
The sound is excellent. There is some minor tape hiss but the re mastered sound is balanced perfectly and offers great clarity and depth. This is definitely a great set to have and treasure and I love it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven's sonatas review, 15 April 2012
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This review is from: Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
This a fantastic collection, by an outstanding performer and expert in Beethoven piano work -- truly heartbreaking. It really deserves to be acquired as a box set (instead of a simple file download).
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas, 8 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
I simply get such a lövely feeling by Wilhelm Kempffs handling of the piano in general and specially with Beethoven
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven. The 32 Piano Sonatas, 12 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
Bought for my brother as a surprise birthday present. He has listened numerous times to this CD and never tires of the excellent quality and production of these Sonatos. A great recommendation for Music Lovers.
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8 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kempff has that rare gift!, 21 Dec 2008
By 
nmollo (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
These are the best recordings of Beethoven's Sonatas on the piano. For pianoforte versions I would recommend Ronald Brautigam's excellent recordings on BIS Records.

Wilhelm Kempff has something that is so necessary in the interpretation of all of Beethoven's music. Natural Rhythm. Without this natural gift Beethoven's music can never be properly interpreted however technically gifted a musician might be.

I also would recommend The Florestan Trio - Piano Trio Volume 1 on Hyperion Records and the wonderful playing of Susan Tomes in particular.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent set of the Beethoven piano sonatas, 13 Dec 2011
By 
Luis M. R. Oliveira (Lisbon, Portugal) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
Its a magnificent set of the Beethoven piano sonatas performed by an historical pianist.
Nevertheless, this regular edition needs some improvement to wipe out some white noise. As an audiophile, I strongly hope that an improved sound edition came out in the future. Until there, enjoy a first rate masterpiece of (perhaps) the #1 composer of all times.
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Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas
Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas by Wilhelm Kempff (Audio CD - 2008)
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