Freddy Kempf


At a glance

Freddy Kempf


Kempf is a pianist in a million
The Arts Desk

Biography —

Freddy Kempf is one of today’s most successful pianists performing to sell-out audiences all over the world. Exceptionally gifted with an unusually broad repertoire, Freddy has built a unique reputation as an explosive and physical performer who is not afraid to take risks as well as a serious, sensitive and profoundly musical artist.

Freddy has collaborated with conductors such as Järvi, Dutoit, Sawallisch, Sanderling, Chailly, Ashkenazy, Petrenko, Oramo, Davis, Belohlavek, Temirkanov, Altinoglu, and Dausgaard, and has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious musical institutions including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic, La Scala Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, NHK Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires, the Tonhalle Orchester and the Dresden Philharmonic.

Most recent career highlights include Freddy’s debut at the BBC Proms, an extensive Asian tour including the Seoul Arts Centre and PyeongChang Music Festival in South Korea; the Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore; and concerto appearances with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan National Symphony, RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra and Bergen Philharmonic. A favourite touring artist, Freddy’s recent tours include a play/conducting tour across New Zealand with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and an extensive twelve-date tour with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra across the UK for which he received critical acclaim: Kempf is a pianist in a million… the incredible definition of Rachmaninov’s inner filigree which emerges all the clearer for a refusal to use the sustaining pedal to blur the sound… his colossal but perfect weight simply stuns. (The Arts Desk)

The 19/20 season began with a return to Japan where Freddy gave major recitals in Kanagawa, Tokyo and Osaka, and played Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2 with Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. Later in the season, Freddy joined the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra performing Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F and Krasnoyarsk Regional Philharmonic Orchestra performing Beethoven Triple concerto. Freddy remained unusually active and managed to return to South Korea, the UK and Russia in spite of the covid 19 pandemic. The upcoming season’s highlights include Malta International Music Festival with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, International Pharos Chamber Music Festival, Philharmonisches Orchester Regensburg, Westdeutsche Sinfonia, Buxton International Festival, King’s Lynn Festival, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and a return to Armenian Philharmonic.

A committed recitalist, Freddy has appeared in many of the world’s most important concert halls including the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire, the Berlin Konzerthaus, Milan’s Sala Verdi, the Concertgebouw, London’s Cadogan and Barbican, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, the Sydney Opera House and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. This season’s recital highlights include appearances at the Birmingham International Piano Series, Moscow’s House of Music, the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory.

A prolific recording artist, Freddy records exclusively for BIS Records. His latest Prokofiev CD, featuring a selection of Prokofiev Sonatas, was released earlier in October 2019. Previously his Tchaikovsky recital CD released in Autumn 2015 was received to great acclaim. In 2013, Freddy released a Schumann recital disc which was warmly received by the critics and, in 2010, his recording of Prokofiev’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3 with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Litton was nominated for the prestigious Gramophone Concerto Award, with the associated magazine describing the collaborative duo as “a masterful Prokofievian pair”. This highly successful collaboration was followed by a recording of Gershwin’s works for piano and orchestra, released in 2012 and described in the press as “beautiful, stylish, light, and elegant… magnificent”. Meanwhile, Freddy’s solo recital disc of Rachmaninov, Bach/Busoni, Ravel and Stravinsky, released in 2011, was praised by BBC Music Magazine for its wonderful delicate playing and fine sense of style.

Born in London in 1977, Freddy made his concerto debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 8 and further came to national prominence in 1992 when he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. In 1998, his award of third, rather than first, prize in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow provoked protests from the audience and an outcry in the Russian press, which proclaimed him “the hero of the competition”.

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Reviews —

Kempf shaped lines with delicacy and insight, yet it was the balance with an impetuous Beethovenian fire that lifted the performance of the third concerto on to a higher level

The Guardian

Freddy Kempf, the solo pianist in Shostakovich’s concerto, was burningly intense and focused

The Telegraph

All four pianists are remarkable personalities but it was Kempf who specially shone at both ends of the dynamic range. He glinted supernaturally in “Aquarium” (complete with a rather truculent glass harmonica) and “The Swan” and gave us the best discords…

The Arts Desk

…it was a blast, mesmerizing, to hear a pianist as courageous, convincing, uncompromising and phenomenally skilled as Kempf defy convention.

...from the beautifully shaped opening statement, an increasing wave of sound so unlike the usual enormous opening, he provided a delicate and individual reading of this well-known piece. Kempf responded to Greig’s thickly written score by playing with a stunning clarity of tone and picking out the important notes in the huge chords, demonstrating his clear understanding of the work. Most impressive was his dialogue with the orchestra, communicating with soloists and full sections to shape phrases just the way he wanted and on occasion turning round in order to agree with leader Duncan Riddell upon where strings and piano should meet


Kempf is excellent at balancing rhythmic verticality against horizontal melodic flow, the second movement’s Allegro strepitoso packed with contrasts in which his changes of touch create multi-layered colour and texture.

Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International

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  • Costa Peristianis