Paul van Kempen Polydor 78s. Pt. 2

Continuing with more Polydor 78rpm era recordings by conductor Paul van Kempen (shown above in his earlier role as violinist, in the Concertgebouw orchestra, among others), here are more rarities from the collection of my friend, Mike Gartz. The recorded quality is quite good on these, although some of the copies show some wear at the ends of sides (the first record of the Grieg, several of the Schubert Symphony sides), but I think they are more than listenable from a sonic point of view.

By all accounts, van Kempen transformed this orchestra into a much improved ensemble almost immediately when he began his tenure as music director there in 1934. Certainly by this juncture, they are a sensitive group, making up for a few intonational lapses with a great cohesion and ability to deliver van Kempen’s long-lined phrasing, and often propulsive tempi with great style. I’m particularly impressed with the Schubert Unfinished, which has tremendous intimacy, and a really classy balancing of musical lines (the start of the second movement is exquisite!). The opening section of the Freischütz Overture also has wonderfully molded phrasing and dynamic shaping. Right from the well-controlled crescendo in the first bar, this is a reading that takes nothing for granted. There is also a refreshing avoidance of some of the oft heard, but unwritten, ritardandi near the end of the work. One note: apparently the Schubert Overture (which is on 3 sides), was also issued with the “Ballet Music” as a fourth side, but this copy has a blank fourth side.

Weber: Der Freischütz Overture
Polydor 15308 (matr. 1171/72 gs IX)

June 15, 1939

Smetana: The Bartered Bride Overture
Polydor 15337 (matr. 1442/43 gs IX)

March 29, 1940

Rossini: The Barber of Seville Overture
Polydor 57152 (matr 1444/45 gs IX)

March 29, 1940

Grieg: Symphonic Dances, Op. 64
Polydor 57158/59 (matr. 1505/08 ge IX)

Orchesters der Staatsoper Berlin
May 25, 1940

Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B Minor “Unfinished”, D. 759
Polydor 67575/77 (matr. 859/61, 875/77 ge IX)

May 25 & June 5, 1940

Schubert: Rosamunde Overture
Polydor 67595/96a (matr. 1023/25 ge IX)

October 11, 1940

Paul van Kempen, Conductor
Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra

(except where noted)


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