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Review of Freddy Kempf at Hall for Cornwall

By West Briton  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

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Freddy Kempf Hall for Cornwall, Truro

Review by Eric Dare

WE ARE now used to hearing first-class music at the HfC, but rarely such virtuosic piano playing as we experienced last week.

A child prodigy – Mozart's Piano Concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, aged 8, winner of prestigious competitions – Freddy Kempf has it all; it was not just his technical ability, but his interpretation of the music that kept me enthralled.

He began with Beethoven's E flat Sonata, 'Les Adieux' where each movement reflects the composer's response to his patron being besieged in Vienna by the French: his flight from the city, his absence and his return. Kempf showed his dexterity with fingers rippling over the keys in the outer movements and conveyed the brooding mood of the andante. Here, and throughout the recital, there was a neatness and clarity in the phrasing, no doubt enhanced by the acoustic of the HfC.

Kempf won the BBC Young Musician prize in 1992 with Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini, and the Romantic composers suit his style of performance. The Chopin Ballades, Nos 3 & 4, particularly exhibited this clarity and interpretation; I felt I was hearing certain phrases, especially in the left hand, for the first time.

Kreisleriana, dedicated to Chopin, which ended the recital, gave a further demonstration of the pianist's skill as the eight sections, depicting Hoffman's fictional Kreisler in his various moods, varied from the meditative, where he sometimes appeared to be caressing the keys, to the exciting, including the playful and powerful ending.

Earlier, Kempf was equally brilliant with Liszt's transcription of the Miserere from Verdi's opera, Il Travatore, where, as in its introductory rumbling bass, the composer combines the mood of the tragic final act with the well-known aria and development.

There wasn't the full house that Freddy Kempf usually attracts – absentees, you missed a treat – but the substantial audience left him in no doubt that he was appreciated and he responded with Liszt's transcription of Isolde's Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde.

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