Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, Folia, D Scarlatti, Mozart, Schumann, Schubert

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Chopin,D Scarlatti,Folia,Mozart,Schubert,Schumann
LABELS: Philips
ALBUM TITLE: Clara Haskil: The Legacy
WORKS: The Complete Philips Classics Recordings, 1951-1960
PERFORMER: Clara Haskil
CATALOGUE NO: 442 685-2 ADD mono/stereo
‘A musician’s musician’, ‘a pianist’s pianist’: she was more than this, and in the last decade of her life she played to packed halls wherever she went. Yet the tags do fit. No public performer was ever less demonstrative in manner, or less rhetorical in style. Indeed there was an air of privacy about her playing that rendered the listener almost intrusive, and she remains, perhaps, a connoisseur’s musician. In the 35 years since her death in 1960 at the age of 65, she has achieved something like cult status in many quarters, yet it’s probably true that most music lovers, certainly of the younger generation, are unfamiliar with anything but her reputation, if that. With any luck this long-overdue collection will put to rights that state of affairs. Many listeners, coming to her playing for the first time, may be disconcerted by a selflessness and simplicity which border at times on the deliberately ascetic. Sparing with the pedals at a time when this was unfashionable, she was never primarily a tone-painter, though her fingers could conjure from the piano a quite remarkable (though discreetly applied) range of colours – witness her vivid evocation of Falla’s Spanish nights. Her playing was unique, inimitable and entirely without mannerism. In overall character it might be said to resemble a kind of amalgam of Horszowski, Lipatti and Richter, with the spirits of Mozart and Chopin hovering like guardian angels over everything she did. She also had a way of bringing out the best in all who worked with her. The violinist Arthur Grumiaux, for instance, was never quite so wonderful as when he played with Haskil, and their partnership in Mozart and Beethoven constitutes one of the greatest treasures in the history of recording. This is a set to welcome with open arms. Jeremy Siepmann