Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chopin : Piano Concerto No 2 - Clara Haskil 1954

There are some pianists who become pigeon-holed – Hewitt equals Bach, Uchida equals Mozart/Schubert, Glenn Gould equals Goldbergs. Haskil's Mozart has tended to do the same for her. This does a serious disservice to a very versatile performer. To hear her play Beethoven's op 111, for example, is to hear a totally different player (Music & Arts have it on a superbly remastered recital disk which also features her Ravel, Debussy and Schumann).

I am eternally grateful to G, who recently uploaded a clutch of live Haskil performances, including this one, of the first Chopin piano concerto, the Piano Concerto no 2 (confusing? Both the Chopin and the Beethoven concertos were published out of sequence; in each case, the first published was the second one written)

Listen to how she manages the build up to the first movement recapitulation. She lets off the pedal in order to get a more incisive, emphatic sound from the passage work, cranking up the tension wonderfully. And listen to her bell-like and telling use of the bass line in the slow movement, supporting that lyrical right hand on a noble foundation. And, of course, listen to her glitter in the closing pages of the last movement. What a player!

Clara Haskil, National Orchestra, André Cluytens April 1954
Mp3 @ 320kbs from radio re-broadcast

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  1. Haskil, quite simply, was in a class by herself. I wish pianists played with taste, technique and musicality. Thanks!

  2. Many thanks for this. I heard this recording some fifteen years ago on BBC Radio 3. It was my introduction to Clara Haskil and I have been a great admirer ever since. Congratulations on a splendid blog.