Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor; Kinderszenen; Carnaval

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: DG Classikon
WORKS: Piano Concerto in A minor; Kinderszenen; Carnaval
PERFORMER: Wilhelm Kempff (piano)Bavarian RSO/Rafael Kubelík
CATALOGUE NO: 439 476-2 ADD (1972-74)
There is much to enjoy in Wilhelm Kempff’s performances: his phrasing is always supremely musical and his attention to detail is meticulous. The concerto, with Kubelík conducting, is well paced and balanced. However, I find Kempff more than a trifle unimaginative. Schumann does need a sense of élan, of Romantic, nervous energy, even syphilitic psychosis at times – and all this is conspicuously absent. Kempff plods through Kinderszenen as if recalling a strict, joyless childhood devoid of spontaneity, innocent wonderment or nostalgia; Carnaval too lacks any focused response to the music’s whimsical moods and characters. The overall impression is pedantic and somewhat sleepy, not enhanced by the sound quality from these Seventies performances. Jessica Duchen