BACH: Toccata in c, BWV 914; SCARLATTI: Two Sonatas; BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 32, Op. 111; SCHUMANN: Abegg Variations (extracts); Bunte Blätter, Op. 99 (extracts); DEBUSSY: Etude pour les sonoritiés opposes; BARTOK: Piano Concerto No. 3 – Clara Haskil, Dinu Lipatti (Bartok), piano/ Sudwestfunk Symphony Orchestra/ Paul Sacher – Tahra mono SACD Tah 747, 78:55 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ***1/2:

Haskil is a pianist I have always admired, especially for her Schumann. Hearing her in the last piano sonata of Beethoven is quite a privilege and she does not let down. The way she delineates the opening fugue in the first movement, no histrionics, just a precise, inevitable march forward as if nothing else could be written at this point, is a marvel to hear. I think the Bach a little fast for my ears, perhaps too mechanical, but the Scarlatti sonatas are right on target.

Like most people I associate Dinu Lipatti with his incandescent recording of the Chopin Waltzes, a reading of great finesse and lightness of touch, done only three months before his death, and incomplete. But aside from the Polish composer, along with Bach and Schubert, Lipatti had a fairly broad repertory for one who died so young (33). Hearing his Bartok 3, the only Bartok he ever recorded, only adds to the conviction that his is an approach of classical purity that almost transcends composer or period. Of course this concerto, among all Bartok’s work, is most disposed to such a treatment, but this reading is quite illuminating. I only wish that the sound, perhaps better here than any of its previous incarnations (especially the EMI) was a little more robust. But I am confident that Tahra has given its best, and that the best of this recording is what we hear in this SACD transfer. For those interested in the Lipatti legacy, no recommendation is needed.

—Steven Ritter