Wilhelm Kempff

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: Favorite Piano Transcriptions

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AllMusic Review by

This disc features transcriptions and performances by German pianist Wilhelm Kempff of 10 works by Bach, two by Gluck, and one by Handel. Kempff's transcriptions, while they cannot be said to surpass the originals, certainly transpose their beauties into a different medium with success. The limpid melody and undulating rhythms of Bach's Sicilienne from the Flute Sonata No. 2 sound supremely well suited for the keyboard, and several of Kempff's other transcriptions here surpass even the better known efforts of Myra Hess and Ferruccio Busoni; there's a quiet intensity to Kempff's "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" that Hess' slightly more elaborate arrangement doesn't quite match, and an artistic humility to Kempff's "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" that Busoni's much more virtuosic version entirely lacks. Coupled with Kempff's pellucid playing of Bach's G minor English Suite and the G major French Suite, the performances here are so completely as one with the music they can justly be called definitive. Every performance is captured in Deutsche Grammophon's clearest, cleanest, and truest stereo sound.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 04:34
2 02:39
Sonata for flute & keyboard in E flat major, BWV 1031
3 03:38
4 02:11
Cantata No. 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben," BWV 147 (BC A174)
5 03:23
6 02:09
Cantata No. 29, "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir," BWV 29 (BC B8)
7 04:35
Cantata No. 140, "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme," BWV 140 (BC A166)
8 04:49
Concerto for harpsichord, strings & continuo No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1056
9 03:40
10 02:35
Suite for keyboard (Suite de piece), Vol.2, No.1 in B flat major, HWV 434
11 04:05
Orfeo ed Euridice (Italian version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 30
12 03:00
13 01:45
English Suite, for keyboard No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808 (BC L15)
14 03:21
15 02:45
16 01:57
17 02:16
18 02:29
19 01:49
20 00:55
21 00:58
22 02:47
French Suite, for keyboard No. 5 in G major, BWV 816 (BC L23)
23 02:50
24 01:38
25 03:57
26 01:16
27 01:15
28 02:22
29 03:28
blue highlight denotes track pick