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Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert: Sonatas / Haskil

Mozart / Beethoven / Schubert / Haskil
Release Date: 02/27/2007 
Label:  Orfeo   Catalog #: 706061   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Franz SchubertWolfgang Amadeus MozartLudwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Clara Haskil
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Recital Review from Die Presse (08/1957):

"The piano recital that Clara Haskil gave at the Mozarteum may be described as a festival of music distinguished by magic of a very special kind. Everything is directed inwards. The magic, the radiance and the concentration that emanate from the platform are so powerful that everything else - the concert hall and the auditorium - seem to fade away, so that listeners think that all all that they can sense and perceive is the presence of the artist. Thus she sits at the piano, delicate and frail, her physical appearance, too, suggestive of someone turned in upon herself and entirely committed to her art; and thus she casts her magical spell, drawing listeners into her
Read more irresistible sway. The element of magic and spirituality seems so essential to her artistry that one forgets to be astonished at the amount of physical power and the delicacy of touch of which she is in fact capable.

And so she plays three choice piano sonatas: Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. And on each occasion she presents not only the form and outward garb of the piece but also its spiritual form, its soul and its idea. She offers what is essential and intrinsic to the work, what exists behind the notes on the printed page and what is accessible only to the elect. Her art and function consists in bringing out this essence, a function that she exercises much as a priest performs his office, with shyness, humility and at the same time with the inner assurance and the convistion on an initiate."
Heinrich Kralik, Die Presse, August 1957

Album Review from ClassicsToday:

Clara Haskil's magnificent August 8, 1957 Salzburg Festival recital previously appeared on the Music and Arts label. However, Orfeo's transfer apparently stems from Austrian Radio's master tape, yielding far superior sound quality in terms of dynamic range, amplitude, sound projection, and color. If anything, the Beethoven E-flat sonata's rollicking finale acquires more urgency, tonal weight (the massive chords at the beginning of the first movement's development section), and inner drive. In the Schubert B-flat's Molto Moderato the melodic trajectory seems more shapely and subtle. I also infer more dramatic immediacy in Haskil's angular passagework and hard-hitting accents throughout Mozart's C major sonata. In essence, Orfeo's sonic upgrade reinforces my preference for these live readings over the pianist's studio versions of the same works. An essential release for Clara Haskil fans.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com

MOZART Piano Sonata in C, K 330. BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 18 in E?. SCHUBERT Piano Sonata in B?, D 960 Clara Haskil (pn) ORFEO 706061, mono (67:38) Live: Salzburg 8/8/1957

I’m sure the reader of this review will find what I am about to say odd, but having followed the music of Sun Ra and his Cosmic Arkestra with this disc, I heard in Haskil’s playing of the Mozart Sonata a tremendous concentration of Zen-like energy, as if every fiber of her mind were concentrated on each and every note in the work. Annotator Gottfried Kraus puts it admirably: “an unforgettably pellucid tone and a technique which, although immaculate, was utterly unspectacular, perfectly balanced and yet full of life and sustained drama.” The music, as she produces it, is cleanly articulated and exceptionally eloquent, yet it is simply in the progression of the notes and the way they interact with each other via her touch that the greatest impact is made on the listener. Like Annie Fischer, she considered herself a servant of the music she played, but unlike Fischer she rarely tortured herself in an almost endless search for musical truth in different ways of playing the music. Once Haskil found her way with a piece, it was her interpretation and it rarely changed except in minute details. Thus her playing of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 18, one of her favorite of his works, differs only in occasional rubato touches from the performance she gave on September 7, 1956 (issued on Music & Arts 542)—even the timings of each movement are within perhaps seven seconds of each other—but the emotional impact on the listener is subtly changed because here it follows and precedes different works by Mozart and Schubert.

Thus was Haskil’s unique gift: not merely to play exquisite renditions of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, but to do so in a way that somehow related these very different composers. She achieved this, one notes, by approaching Beethoven not with the awe of an acolyte presenting us with a bit of the Holy Grail, but as an intimate who is completely unafraid of the composer’s musical demands. Her classically balanced mind allowed her to give the music exactly its due without the slightest exaggeration, yet also with all of the composer’s dynamic markings and phrase changes, both written and implied. It is at once both simple and lively Beethoven—not an approach that would work in all of the 32 sonatas, but one that works very well in this one.

In the 1956 concert, the “shorter” Schubert A-Minor Sonata (a little over 24 minutes) was followed in turn by Schumann’s Kinderszenen, but here she ends the recital after the longer (32 minutes) B?-Sonata. Her interpretation of this difficult work is very different from most pianists’ versions: as straightforward and clear in structure as her Mozart and Beethoven, not lacking feeling but lacking sentimentality. It is, perhaps, not a very “Viennese” version of Schubert, but it is Haskil’s and it certainly touches the heart even as it clarifies the structure. In her performance, even the pauses—the moments of silence—become eloquent. Again, so much of Haskil’s communication came through her touch, which she varied greatly in sonority and color. Here is a mystery of great piano playing that often escapes modern keyboardists, clean and scrupulously “musical” though they are. Without variance of touch, all you produce is a mechanical reading; with it, no matter how steady the tempo, there is always a feeling of change, of tension and release. It’s not a trait, I think, that can be learned, but it can be intuited.

The sound of these 55-year-old mono tapes isn’t perfect. A very slight amount of wavering tone is evident now and then. But you get so wrapped up in Haskil’s playing that it really doesn’t matter. Even at the loudest and most emotionally effusive moments of this sonata, nothing in the structure is lost, nor is the flow interrupted for showboating or histrionics. It’s almost, as Kraus put it, anti-virtuosic pianism. Friedrich Gulda sometimes played the same way, but only after he discovered the liberating effects of jazz in the late 1950s. Nothing in the music is beyond her, not only technically but also in terms of mood and communication, and by presenting it as “all of a piece” the listener is able to follow the thread of Schubert’s thought processes without impediment. Very highly recommended.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano in B flat major, D 960 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Clara Haskil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 08/08/1957 
Venue:  Live  Mozarteum, Salzburger Festspielen 
Length: 31 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 10 in C major, K 330 (300h) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Clara Haskil (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781-1783 
Date of Recording: 08/08/1957 
Venue:  Live  Mozarteum, Salzburger Festspielen 
Length: 15 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 18 in E flat major, Op. 31 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Clara Haskil (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 08/08/1957 
Venue:  Live  Mozarteum, Salzburger Festspielen 
Length: 19 Minutes 0 Secs. 

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