Friday, November 29, 2013

Clara Haskil - A Recording Like No Other...

The world of music recognizes Clara Haskil as one of the truly great artists of the 20th century. Her unique language, one of such purity in design and  tonal production, creates  a kind of aura around her playing  that can  belong only to this remarkable artist.
She and her fellow Romanian, Dinu Lipatti, form a duo that gives us some of the most poetic contributions that the world of recorded music can bestow upon the music lover. Ironically, both giants had brief careers; Lipatti, dying in his 33rd year of cancer, and Haskil gaining world recognition only during the latter years of her life.
I know of no great artist who was so absorbed in what she thought of as personal failings for so much of her life, and in actuality she was part and parcel responsible for the delaying  of  world recognition. She constantly derided her own entity, stating in a letter, for instance, to Lipatti that she had " an empty head, as is my wallet." She once wrote that when she prepared to learn a piece of music, then heard Lipatti perform the same music, she simply said ":why try?" and did not pursue that particular music, at least at that particular point in time. She was reclusive and quite depressed much of her earlier years, and only a relatively small number of people knew of her enormous gifts, which, sadly, went on for years, regardless of the great reviews she would receive, however rather spasmodically.
At  one point in time she was given a tape recorder which she  used in her flat in Vevey, Switzerland.  I have a recording of her working on the Beethoven 2nd Concerto. How often does one have the opportunity to hear a great artist practice? I would most strongly recommend that you look for this recording, among others that were released from these tape-recorded sessions in her little apartment, I believe done during the late 1950's. What a revelation!
Do look for these treasures -to be a "fly on the wall" of a great artist is a rarity indeed...

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