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Nightfall. Close-ups of Käbi Laretei, pianist
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Fantasia in C minor
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in F major
Sonata in D major
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Sonata in D minor Op.31 No.2 Tempest
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Mazurka in A minor
Prelude in A minor
Nocturne in C sharp minor
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)

Aften på Højfjeldet
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

La soirée dans Grenade
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Nachstück
Käbi Laretei (piano)
Recorded at Studio 3, Sveriges Radio, Stockholm 1977-78
PROPRIUS PRCD 9073 [69.56]

 

Käbi Laretei was born in Tallinn and arrived in Sweden during the Second World War where she has held an honoured place in musical life ever since. A pupil of Edwin Fischer she has a wide repertoire and an innovative approach to concert giving, which includes spoken introductions. She was long the musical muse of Ingmar Bergman, whose wife she was until their divorce. I mention the Bergman connection because she does so in her liner notes, which provide an intriguing insight into the processes of creativity and perception; how musicians are stimulated, informed and changed by those, not necessarily musical, around them. It was Bergman who suggested she study the Mozart Fantasia, a piece she didn’t know for his film Face to Face as he suggested she study the harpsichord to learn some Scarlatti for The Devil’s Eye. Of the Bergman inspired pieces here perhaps the best known, from a cinematic point of view, is Autumn Sonata - she reprises the Prelude in A minor in this disc – all recorded over twenty-five years ago now, between 1977-78.

But the disc’s actual animating raison d’être is not Bergman but Nightfall – the crepuscular intimacies and fears of dusk. It makes for an interesting programme though, as she points out, to achieve consistency she would have preferred the Moonlight to the Tempest. However I have to say that I find that the companion Proprius disc by her – also reviewed by me - far preferable to this one. I don’t much like the sound of the piano, or the recorded sound and much of her playing here is vitiated by a retardation of rhythm and a rather inert approach generally. I did find the A minor prelude idiosyncratic and novel and she vests a suitable bleakness in the Grieg but comparison, for example, between her Scarlatti F major sonata and the lucid and charming mid 1950s recording by Marcelle Meyer shows what is missing here.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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