This important set contains the sixteen Beethoven sonatas that Wilhelm Kempff recorded for Grammophon in Germany between 1940 and 1943. Several are reissued here for the first time since their original release on 78rpm discs and none are currently available elsewhere. The sound is excellent for the period and all reveal the young Kempff at his best, in performances that compliment his later thoughts. The release is the companion of two previous APR releases of early Kempff Beethoven recordings the late sonatas (APR6018) and piano concertos 1, 3, 4 & 5 (APR6019), both of which received excellent reviews and were amongst APRs best sellers.
While it is pleasurable to hear three of the world's best-known virtuosos playing together with such extraordinary sympathy and enthusiasm, the actual performances by violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Emanuel Ax on this disc of Mendelssohn's two piano trios are merely so-so. Each alone sounds marvelous Perlman with his sweet intonation, Ma with his lyrical phrasing, and Ax with his sonorous tone but together they are not quite the sum of their parts.
Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) inhabits a "sound world" uniquely his own: moody, harmonically complex, sometimes neurotically so, melodically elusive. Less readily accessible than either of his French contemporaries, Debussy and Ravel, Faure's chamber music, nonetheless, is infinitely rewarding and certainly should be more widely recorded and available.
This remarkably rich offering of Faure's only two piano quartets (in C Minor, Op. 15 and G Minor, Op. 45) will, no doubt, go a long way in re-energizing interest in this coupling of the composer's most "popular" ensemble works.
Pierre-Laurent Aimard continues to present a repertoire for the piano that is never less than imaginative and is always compelling. The Dvorák Piano Concerto is rarely heard, not because it lacks beauty or inventive scoring for both piano and orchestra, but because the piece has gained the reputation of the 'Tristan' of concertos. Enter Pierre-Laurent Aimard and all of that changes.