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Schumann: Piano Concerto, Kinderszen, Et Al / Haskil, Et Al

Release Date: 07/29/2008 
Label:  Urania Records   Catalog #: 358   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Clara Haskil
Conductor:  Willem van Otterloo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hague Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Clara Haskil’s story is not one that inspires optimism—much of her 65 years on this earth were spent in poor health, near-poverty, and an unrelenting plague of stage fright. Yet this Romanian-born Swiss Jewess left the world some of the most ingratiating Schumann, Beethoven, and Mozart that we have ever heard. Her Mozart sonatas with Arthur Grumiaux are still among the best available, and her Scarlatti is wondrous. Neither did she shy away from the likes of Hindemith and Busoni. Her playing is marked by a complete sense of transparency and unalloyed clarity, a stunning ability to balance the voices, and know what to bring to the fore at any given moment.

Though she has hardly been ignored on records (with at least 60
Read more recordings currently available, including studio recordings of everything given here), this release of recordings taken from 1951–55 is most welcome. First of all, the sound is very good in these mono issues, not at all distracting, enabling us to enjoy the fruit of this woman’s tremendous artistry. There is no one who understands Schumann better. No sloppiness, ridiculous phrasing, or point making in these performances, just honestly felt and presented readings of great substance and substantial caliber. Her performance of the Waldszenen in particular is a personal favorite, one that competes with both Richter and Wild in its brilliance and color. The Concerto has been heard to better effect as far as the orchestral playing goes—but even here one senses a mighty spirit at work as Haskil glides through Schumann’s score with an élan and familiarity that eludes many others.

Though sound is not an issue, in many ways it really is if you don’t know these works, because there are excellent recordings done in stereo. Still, if you want to hear Schumann the way he was meant to be played, by all means consider this release or one of the other more noted recordings in the Haskil discography.

-- Steven E. Ritter, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Clara Haskil (Piano)
Conductor:  Willem van Otterloo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841-1845; Germany 
Kinderszenen, Op. 15 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Clara Haskil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Waldszenen, Op. 82 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Clara Haskil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848-1849; Germany 
Theme and Variations for Piano on the name ABEGG, Op. 1 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Clara Haskil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1830; Germany 

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