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Clara Haskil (piano) – 1953 Recital
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Toccata BWV 914 in E minor [7:09]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in C major, K132 [5:07]
Sonata in E flat major, K193 [3:55]
Sonata in B minor, K87 [4:10]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata no. 32 in C minor, Op. 111 (1821-22) [21:54]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Abegg Variations, Op. 1 (1829-30) [6:26]
Bunte Blätter, Op. 99 (1830) [4:50]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Etude No.10, L136 Pour le sonorities opposees (1915) [4:01]
Etude No.7, L136 Pour le degres chromatique (1915) [2:01]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Sonatine (1903-05) [9:29]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV659 arr. Busoni [3:53]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Waldszenen; Abschied, Op.82 (1848-49) [2:49]
rec. 11 April 1953, Chateau de Ludwigsburg

This recital has already appeared on disc but here the full concert is presented using a remastering of SWR’s original tapes. It was given in April 1953 in Ludwigsburg and joins a raft of preserved Haskil material from this decade.

Haskil’s Bach Toccata is measured, precise, technically controlled and avoids extremes of sonority and tempo changes. It offers a coolly dispatched entrée to the programming which continues with three Scarlatti sonatas. There’s playful wit in the first of the selection, with a deft arsenal of voicings, breadth and sympathetic expression in the B minor.  Beethoven's Op 111 sonata, which she presented as the centrepiece of the recital, gets off to a splattery start with inexact rhythm and finger slips but largely settles down thereafter. It’s not an overwhelming or engulfing performance, nor one that attempts any kind of overt philosophising in the Arietta – and in truth doesn’t reflect her very best playing – but it does enshrine a real sense of incremental and purposeful serenity.

The Schumann brace is decidedly attractive. There’s a confident handling of the Bunte Blätter, not least the probing expressive opening panel of the last of the three and the brimming technical flourishes of its more virtuosic second part. The Abegg Variations was something of a Haskil favourite and is played with strong idiomatic sympathy – and briskly too. She plays two of Debussy’s Etudes, L136 – crisp, clear, compelling with the left hand pointing of the seventh notably successful. In some ways, though, the Ravel Sonatine is the best single example of her playing to be found in the recital. It’s incisive, vivid musicianship full of rhythmic subtlety and colour and a particularly effective performance that fully displays the music’s sense of momentum. Ending the recital with Busoni’s arrangement of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland and Schumann’s Abschied from Waldszenen re-establishes a sense of measured warmth and consolatory depth. Eight months later she was dead.

Peter Cossé’s perceptive booklet notes and the fine remastering support this release admirably.

Jonathan Woolf


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