Freddy Kempf wows the Brighton Dome

Rave reviews are appearing for the Brighton Phil’s latest concert with Freddy Kempf on Sunday 11 November.

These include a glowing review for The Latest written by Andrew Connal. Read it here: https://thelatest.co.uk/brighton/2018/11/12/brighton-philharmonic-orchestra-freddy-kempf-piano-conductor/

Phil Dennett reviewing for the Horsham & District Post, Henfield Hub & Uckfield News made special mention of the dedication of the concert to the memory of Philip Wilford, former sponsor of the orchestra’s Principal Flute. Read his review at: http://uckfieldnews.com/review-see-how-brighton-philharmonic-orchestra-touches-lives/

Chris Francis for Brighton & Hove Independent/Sussex County Times/Mid Sussex Times wrote: “If world renowned London-born pianist Freddy Kempf had been on piece rate he would have been a rich man after Sunday’s all-round performance with the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra at the Dome.

In the second of the BPO’s current eight-concert programme the gifted 41-year-old showed just why he has a reputation as an explosive and physical performer, not only confirming his immense talent on the concert piano with a superb performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3 but directing from the keyboard and also guiding the excellent BPO through memorable performances of  Rossini’s typically tuneful overture from the opera Semiramide and one of Dvorak’s lesser heard major pieces, at least by me, Symphony No 7.

The physical input into his conducting was mightily impressive and should have ensured he slept well on Sunday night, while his playing was as impressive as his pedigree would suggest. Kempf, the son of a Japanese mother and German father, first caught the attention of British concertgoers when he played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall aged just eight and then in 1992 became the BBC’s young musician of the year.

The choice of music for the next BPO concert on December 2 again includes Beethoven, with his Symphony No 7, and also to my personal delight two Mozart works in Symphony No 35 (Haffner) and the Violin Concerto No 5 (Turkish). Dome favourite Ben Gernon takes the baton and talented violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen is the soloist for the latter work and may well stay around for the Beethoven in the second half which she admits is the one work she would choose to introduce newcomers to the wonder of classical music.”

Writing for The Argus Janet Lawrence was unsure ahead of the concert about Freddy Kempf’s ambitious directing of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3 from the keyboard, however she need not have worried. She wrote: “The Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert last Sunday, 11 November, couldn’t have been more different from the first; No patriotic fervour from Elgar and Parry, more a programme of three big works, directed from the piano by Freddy Kempf. This is not – in my mind – an easy task, especially when you’re playing a major Beethoven Piano Concerto.

However, 41-year-old Mr Kempf, 1992 Young Musician of the Year age 15, carried it off with ease. I worried about that when it came to the Beethoven Piano concerto No 3 – how could an artist put his passion and emotion into a piano piece whilst thinking of how to direct the orchestra? Backstage after the concert, Kempf reassured me: “I think with the Beethoven, he himself would have directed from the piano because in some sections the left hand is freed up and there’s no reason why the right hand should stop playing; it allows a lot of freedom in that I don’t have to convey to the conductor what I’m thinking about and then he’s got to convey that to the orchestra. I think it actually makes it easier.” Kemp is no stranger to directing from the piano and has had training for it.

So we opened with the short confection of Rossini’s Semiramide Overture, full of tunes and a spirited beginning to the concert, short enough (12 minutes) to allow for late comers. Then lots of chair shuffling on stage to wheel on the grand piano. There’s no doubt Kempf knows Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto well – he’s made a study of all the concertos – and his performance was sparkling and impeccable.

Interval over; piano gone; Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 filled the second half with it’s calm melodies in the first two movements, bursting into waltz time in the third movement for ‘take your partners please’ (no not literally) – but that’s how it sounded, thinking of ourselves waltzing around a large ballroom. Strains and trills from the wind section gave depth and lift to the work, while Kempf, conducting, felt he wanted to bring out what the strings could do

Next Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra concert is December 2nd, 2.45pm, when Ben Gernon returns to conduct two Mozarts and a Beethoven, with Tamsin Waley-Cohen playing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5.”

In his piece for Sussex University’s student newspaper The Badger, Ketan Jha opens with: “Yet again, the Brighton Philharmonic has put on a superb classical music performance at an affordable price…The concert opened explosively with a flawless performance of Rossini’s Semiramide.” Read his review in full at: http://thebadgeronline.com/2018/11/brighton-philharmonic-orchestra-classical-music-review/

Reviewing for Lark Reviews Susan Elkin tweeted at the interval: “Spirited account of Beethoven 3rd piano concerto by Freddy Kempf directing from keyboard although I’m not convinced that such multi-tasking is always a good idea.” Read her review in full at: http://www.larkreviews.co.uk/?p=4751

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