Friday, 23 February 2018

Clara Haskil in 1953

A piano recital from 65 years ago in Ludwigsburg by Clara Haskil reminds us what we are missing all too often these days. The 75 minute programme features music by Bach, Scarlatti, Schumann, Debussy and Ravel. All short pieces, except for Beethoven's last piano sonata, Opus 111. An infinite variety of music over a couple of centuries, superbly played. The 65 year old sound comes over extremely well in SWR's re-mastering and transfers.

The performance of Beethoven's Opus 111 is more subdued than those to which we are accustomed. There is a wrong note during the start, to remind us these are unedited taped recordings. The theme of the Arietta is played with a beautiful simplicity; perhaps a primary example of art concealing art. Clara Haskil was no barn-stormer, and maybe she is slightly less impressive in late Beethoven than in her much-favoured other masters of the classical era. In any case, we do not long to hear her in Rachmaninov's third piano concerto. Many thanks to SWR for exhuming this recital.

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