This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Clara Haskil recorded these sonatas in Switzerland in 1960, the year of her death. It is good to have them available on CD, though I wish Philips had thought to include a little more about her in the booklet. She was an exceptional artist whose questing spirit was allied to an ease of communication—or so it appeared—that made her playing irresistible. To observe the quality of which this frail and diminutive woman was capable, crouched over the keyboard, was enough to make you think she must be in some state of grace. Her physical frailty has often been commented upon, but you would not guess it from the way she plays Beethoven here. And she will confound you if, knowing her reputation as a Mozart interpreter, you expect the scale of her
performances to be on the small side, or in some way not quite powerful enough for the 'new and special manner' Beethoven began to explore in his Op. 31 Sonatas.
The fire and tempestuous urgency of the first movement of the D minor is all there. Urgency is to the fore in the finale too, driving the music on to great effect, though not without detriment to the detail of the writing here and there—and raising a doubt, perhaps, as to exactly what pace Beethoven intended to convey by allegretto. In this regard, comparison with Murray Perahia's recent CBS recording (see above) is interesting. Perahia's tempo and manner are a good deal gentler, and the detail is exemplary: but is he a bit slow?
There are a few disappointments. The sound, though agreeably intimate, is too close to allow a perception of really quiet playing, or telling contrasts between quiet and very quiet. It may be that Haskil herself didn't attempt enough in this direction. It is certainly curious to find her projecting the slow movement of the D minor Sonata as an andante rather than an adagio and being not much interested in its inward quality. There is a misreading here in bar 68, and when the rest is so fine one can only regret that the movement was not redone. A demanding producer might also have insisted that her left-hand staccato was too heavy in the second movement of the E flat Sonata, since it detracts—just a little—from the vivaciousness of the piece. But it's pointless to alight on reservations and make too much of them. We shall not hear Clara Haskil play these sonatas again, and when she set them down she gave us a document of her rare sensibility and intelligence. It has been a pleasure to renew acquaintance with it.
-- Gramophone [2/1988]
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