Kempff’s Moonlight

Early this morning, I listened to the late pianist, Wilhelm Kempff, performing the Sonata #14, also called the “Moonlight sonata” by Beethoven.

Yea… this is a real warhorse; played by so many musicians; yet I have my own perception of how I want to hear it done. And this interpretation got my attention: There was great peace, no major changes in dynamics, beautiful legato in the melodic line. I closed my eyes, and I stopped breathing… that’s how great it was…

This man knew how to create pianissimos on the instrument. And no piece is more suited for this than the Moonlight. And at the end, even the tempo slows somewhat to lead us to completion…

I read a review of Wilhelm Kempff’s playing by Robin Friedman that said it so well:

“Kempff’s readings of the sonatas are highly personal and introspective. His tempos tend to be slow and fluid, the pedal is used a great deal, phrasing is highly legato, and volume is, for the most part, subdued and restrained. He offers a metaphysical, thoughtful reading of Beethoven which probes within. It is a moving and convincing way of rendering the sonatas, and I came away from my experience with the set over the past several days with a renewed devotion to this music.”

Here is the late Wilhelm Kempff, playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata




Tags: Wilhelm Kempff, Beethoven, Sonatas, Piano, Moonlight

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