Paul van Kempen. Polydor 78s, Pt. 3


Continuing my survey of Paul van Kempen’s Polydor recordings in chronological order, it’s plain to hear that the Dresden Philharmonic has developed into a first rate ensemble, gaining a degree of tonal refinement by this date that the improving Polydor sonics reveal. Perhaps a few moments of raw wind intonation remain, but as Germany’s history enters its darkest chapter, the Dresden Philharmonic begins to emerge as a world class orchestra, thanks to van Kempen’s stewardship.

The care taken over the “minor” works here is gratifying, but it is the Beethoven which deserves pride of place. Right from the interesting articulation of the opening pickup note, the introduction has an unusual and convincing profile, interestingly weighted, and rather uniquely lyrical. the slow movement has similar attributes, but the energy and care of voice-leading and balancing elsewhere keeps one’s interest throughout. The lessons of Mengelberg are evident, but van Kempen has his own brand of authority, as fans of his later Philips Lp Beethoven performances know well.

Flotow: Martha, Overture
Polydor 15324 (matr. 878/79 GE 9)

June 5, 1940

Beethoven: Symphony No. 2, Op. 36
Polydor 67608/12S (matr. 1308, 1311/18 GE 9)

Wagner: Flying Dutchman, Overture
April, 1940 (matr. 1323/25 GE 9)

Das Rheingold: Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla
Polydor 57165/66

June 23, 1941 (matr. 1502 GE 9)
Note: the label (pictured above), lists the Rheingold side as being performed by the Orchester der Staatskapelle, Berlin. Several reference works list this as being a Dresden PO recording, as the Flying Dutchman Overture is. Perhaps the label is incorrect? Ah, see the comment below: apparently this 4th side is conducted by Karl Elmendorff. I believe this is an error in the Tahra discography, but an understandable one if one is viewing the label pictured above!

Weber: Preciosa, Overture
Polydor 57146 (matr. 1326/27 GE 9)

April, 1940

Von Suppe: Banditenstreiche, Overture
Polydor 57147 (matr. 1443/44 GE 9)

June 4, 1941

Gounod: Faust, Prelude
Polydor 57275 (matr. 1447/48 GE 9)

June 4, 1941

Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra
Paul van Kempen, Conductor

Once again, thanks to Mike Gartz for his valuable source material!

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