Rudolf Kempe

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25; Brahms: Symphony No. 2

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Despite leading some of Europe's finest orchestras, the name of conductor Rudolf Kempe is sadly not one that is encountered frequently today owing at least in part to the fact that his somewhat limited recorded output did not begin until fairly late in his career. Prized during his lifetime as an opera conductor above all else, Kempe had a reputation of fidelity to the score and attention to detail and balance. These positive characteristics are at once noticeable in the present recording of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25 with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and pianist Carl Seemann. The piano's sound is always warm and central, while the orchestra never comes across as timid or trying to avoid stepping on the pianist's toes. Seemann's performance, like Kempe's, focuses on detail and nuance in the score rather than drawing attention to himself. With the Dresden Staatskapelle, with which Kempe had one of his first long-term engagements, Kempe engages listeners with a strict interpretation of Brahms' Second Symphony. Without the ponderous and sometimes overdone rubato that plagues many modern recordings of this symphony, Kempe's more academic approach to the music is a breath of fresh air. This is certainly not to say that this performance is rigid or unmoving -- quite the contrary. But with the excessive emotionality removed, listeners are free to enjoy the music itself.

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