Beethoven, Chopin, Ravel, Debussy, Liszt, Schumann, Prokofiev, Scriabin, Bach, Kabalevsky, Stravinsky

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COMPOSERS: Bach,Beethoven,Chopin,Debussy,Kabalevsky,Liszt,Prokofiev,Ravel,Schumann,Scriabin,Stravinsky
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Archive
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Hommage Ë Werner Haas
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Werner Haas (piano)
The premature death of Werner Haas 25 years ago took away a pianist-musician of exceptional calibre: a thinker whose insights never spilled over into idiosyncrasy, an instrumentalist of commanding authority and versatility – and a stylist whose style derived from whatever piece or composer he happened to be playing. This generous selection from his many recordings (1963 to 1975) gives one ample opportunity to sample his art in a very wide range of works and composers. Like many of the best pianists, he was inconsistent, and there are certainly moments when the muse appeared to have abandoned him. Much of Schumann’s Carnaval, for instance, is surprisingly thick and rhythmically stodgy, and there are moments, too, where the sound is abrasively hard-edged, even in some of his Chopin, which is in most other ways outstanding. He’s actually more erratic in Beethoven, where he sometimes slips into a kind of static metricality – but his best Beethoven-playing is very distinguished indeed. One of the disappointments of the collection is the fact that there’s only one piece each from Ravel and Debussy. And Haas (a pupil of Gieseking) was a master here. Like the playing, the sound is highly variable, but this is a collection with much to recommend it. Jeremy Siepmann