Except among record collectors and an ever dwindling number of music lovers who were lucky enough to have heard him conduct in public prior to his death in 1955, Van Kempen remains little more than a name in a book. The reasons for his relative obscurity are not that difficult to understand. Outside The Netherlands and Germany he had no career of which to speak and during his prime he conducted in wartime Europe which was hardly the ideal place from which to spread his fame throughout the English-speaking world. Yet on the evidence of a handful of extraordinary commercial recordings made between 1951 and the year of his death, Van Kempen was clearly one of the most distinctive musical minds of his generation and one of the most individual Tchaikovsky conductors the century has known.
Following the very popular release of Paul van Kempen’s Tchaikovsky recordings with the Concertgebouw Orchestra on Philips (Decca Eloquence 480 8536), we now present the three Beethoven symphonies (Nos. 3, 7 and 8, recorded in 1951 and 1953) he made for Philips, coupled with his 1952 Deutsche Grammophon recording of ‘The Consecration of the House’ Overture. The mono sound is vibrant and the performances, all with the Berliner Philharmoniker, are insightful, passionate and thrilling.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, op. 55 ‘Eroica’
Die Weihe des Hauses: Overture, Op. 124
Symphony No. 7 in A major, op. 92
Symphony No. 8 in F major, op. 93
Paul van Kempen
Recordings: Jesus Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany, 26–28 May 1951 (Symphony No. 3), 30 May–1 June 1953 (Symphony No. 7), 1–2 June 1953 (Symphony No. 8), 7 September 1952 (Die Weihe des Hauses)