Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

CD cover

CD cover

CD cover

CD cover

Clara Haskil and Dinu Lipatti. Hommage
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

Etude de concert No. 2 La Leggierezza
Carl Heinrich GRAUN (1703/04-1759)

Francis POULENC (1899-1963)

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

Pièce charactéristique Op. 7 No. 4
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Capriccio Op. 76 No. 5
Intermezzo Op. 76 No. 4
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)

Prelude Op. 50 No. 2
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 2
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Concerto for Piano. and Orchestra No. 2 – extract of solo rehearsal [8.01]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Abegg Variations
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Piano. Concerto No. 9 Jeunehomme K 271
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Chorale Prelude Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland BWV 599 – two versions, one by each pianist
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)

Piano. Concerto No. 3 (1945)
Dinu LIPATTI (1917-1950)

Sonatina for left Hand
Clara Haskil (piano) - all items except last two - with
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Eugen Jochum (Mozart 1st March 1954)
Dinu Lipatti (piano) last three items with
South West German Radio Orchestra/Paul Sacher 30th April 1948
Recorded live (with exception of the Schumann Abegg Variations) c1929-1954
TAHRA TAH 2.366-2.367 [2 CDs 130.02]


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The unusual nature of the relationship between these two great Romanian pianists is described in some detail in the extensive booklet notes written by Clara Haskil’s biographer Jérome Spycket. The oscillatory affection, devotion and eventual loss is sensitively told and adds an even richer, more humanly complex layer to their lives. It is apt and just documentation for a set of historical significance and if in the final balance it is the Haskil disc that provides the more revealing material – because many are previously unissued recordings – the confluence of the two is no less important for the light they shed on each other.

The unpublished Haskil material seems to date from 1928 to 1958. I say ‘seems’ because there seems to be some confusion surrounding it in the booklet notes and I’ve made little headway tracking it down. I think the Abegg Variations at least derive from a commercial recording because Haskil made a little popularized set of discs for Polydor in the 1930s and Polydor 561121 contains the Schumann. It’s possible that other sides here derive from commercial discs as well but the Beethoven extract is a rehearsal segment and the Mozart Concerto is a live recording from 1954, preserved by German radio. The Chorale Prelude was also recorded live, at Ludwigsburg Castle. Irrespective of their provenance there are plenty of things to intrigue the Haskil devotee. In Liszt’s La Leggierezza she engages in some rather rhetorical rubati even though there is some scintillating clarity in the right hand and it’s a real pity that the recording ends abruptly losing some bars at the conclusion. Carl Heinrich Graun’s Gigue used to be a bit of a repertoire piece and one can see why; it has a sturdy charm, flecked by moments of wit that give it a winning profile. Tahra have had to work with a less than pristine copy here with a relatively high degree of surface noise and occasional fortissimi overload. The Poulenc Presto – blink and you miss it – was popular with Horowitz and others but again a rather battered copy has had to be used. Brahms’ Capriccio is however full of discursive romanticism, its alternate drive and unease conveyed with a tension inducing control. Similarly the Intermezzo is full of sensitive shaping. She runs through parts of the second Beethoven Concerto – most unusual and fascinating to eavesdrop on her in this unvarnished, intimate context. The Abegg Variations, always one of her stellar performances, receives a remarkable and all-encompassing sweep. Tonally and expressively, in terms of rhythmic attack and judicious weight, in response to drama, external and internal, this is a triumphant performance. Bavarian Radio taped her Mozart Concerto in 1954 in quite serviceable though hardly luxuriant sound. There’s no bloom to the acoustic and an occasional dimness to the sound perspective but no matter – the first movement has her usual clarity and decisiveness, the Andantino a simplicity born of directness of utterance. The finale is full of vivacity but also a singular charm and wit hard to resist. Haskil’s disc ends with Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland, taped in 1953, a noble way to end her contribution and – a touching moment – Lipatti’s disc begins with the same Chorale Prelude, recorded for HMV in 1947.

If I spend less time on Lipatti it’s because the items on his disc are more known quantities. The commercial Bach is augmented by three interviews with Lipatti conducted in Switzerland, where he was living, in 1950 - a few months before his death. These are scripted, as was the custom, and one can hear Lipatti’s heavily accented French and have the advantage of the translations being printed in the booklet. The Bartók Concerto has appeared before – it’s available on EMI CDM5 66988-2 (coupled with the Bach-Busoni First Concerto and the First Liszt) and that EMI issue is in slightly better sound than this one. The performance took place in Baden-Baden in 1948 with Paul Sacher conducting the orchestra of South West German Radio. Though the recording has some (surmountable) problems the reading is cool and clear, with a slow movement of almost pellucid beauty from Lipatti, his tone colours of devastating candour. Finally there is Lipatti’s own Sonatine for the Left Hand, a remarkable wartime Romanian radio recording. This little eight-minute work runs the gamut of neo-classical wit (the opening Allegro), affectionate and sophisticated depth (the slow movement marked Andante religioso) and folk-like boisterousness (the Allegro vivace finale).

This then is a set of some significance. Sometimes the sound is less than optimum but that is a price well worth paying to acquire some unique performances. Lipatti’s many admirers will want to hear his speaking voice (at least I hope they will) as well, obviously, as the Sonatine and should they not already have it, the Bartók. Devotees of Haskil have been increasingly well served over recent years but will still find this a treasure trove of rare material. In its touching eloquence this set also reflects something of the turbulence of time, place and consequence which dogged, pursued and finally overwhelmed these two irreplaceable artists.

Jonathan Woolf


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