Kempff had a special affinity for Beethoven. He was not thunderous but tended to be more gentle and lyrical. This is probably the best set there is, made in the 1950s in good sound, with Kempff's virtuosity and flair at its peak. The paying is just that bit better than on his later set (compare the two 'Moonlights) and the recording matches up. At the price this should be snapped up immediately.
Frankly, some of these bargain budget issues are of questionable recording and performance quality made by little-known musicians in faraway countries. However, this is a rare exception - a critically acclaimed set, and a favourite of many music fans. Beethoven's Piano Sonatas (complete in this edition) is a compelling musical world, a cornerstone of classical music, and who better to guide you than the great maestro Wilhelm Kempff.
I'm one of those vinyl buffs and I'm lucky enough to have the LP box set of this, which I play regularly. Although recorded in the 50s and in mono, it is sounds beautiful and is a delight to listen to on a good hi-fi system. However such a set-up is rather cumbersome for taking on my holidays, so I was delighted to find I could now download this set for just a few quid. Now I have this treasured music with me on my Kindle, and I'm very happy.
This is a fantastic set. Wilhelm Kempf, perhaps the best German Beethoven interpreter of the 20th Century. It is in mono, but I really do not think that this is an issue with piano music! Pay a few pounds and enjoy all of the sonatas at your leisure: tjhere are so many to discover beyond the famous ones.
There's something magical about this version of the cycle, hence a 'Penguin Guide' key recording being awarded to it. Kempff's versions just reaches out to the listener and I feel like I'm discovering these works afresh. Amazing music performed sublimely and the recording quality is pretty darn good too. A real no brainer of a download at this ridiculously low price. Reading the discussions about this ludicrously cheap collection, DG wont be happy but I'm sure it's all legal and I'm sure the last 50 odd years of selling the cycle for £50 has more than paid off their production costs.
To answer a couple of queries, this, as you can tell from the track lengths, is Kempff's earlier mono set of the complete sonatas, recorded between 1951 and 56. Many rate it even higher than his later stereo version, and no one would dispute that it is one of the classic accounts. Check out the reviews for the CD version. There are of course many versions of the Beethoven sonatas to choose from, and none is definitive, but it is wonderful to have this available so cheaply (at £2.99 it is 10% the current Amazon price for the CDs).
This mono set of recordings by Kempff is considered by many to be better than his later stereo set. While missing the spacious sound of the stereo set this mono set is very good indeed and remarkable for the price that Amazon are charging. If you don't have a set of the complete sonatas this is a great way to find out why they are among the most important of Beethoven's works.
Good, honest, scholarly performances by the legendary and distinguished pianist Wilhelm Kempff, with sensible, meaningful tempi throughout. No overblown exuberance, sentimentality or eccentricity, just the music interpreted as I’m sure Beethoven would have wanted. Although the performances, in my opinion, were probably recorded late 60’s, the sound quality is quite good. If you like good music and have not previously heard these 32 sonatas then you are in for the treat of your life. For the small sum asked for, this set is an absolute must.
Whist the most tracks are good and the price of the album is very generous, it is not the best style that I wished to hear. This is not to say it is not stylistic - but some interpretations could be more fierce and some could be softer. It is a totally matter of my preference. The recording quality is not amazingly refined, but for the consideration of the overall quality, I think it is a good album.