Monique Haas, Vol. 2 = SCHUMANN: Kreisleriana, Op. 16; MOZART: Piano Sonata No. 8 in A Minor; DEBUSSY: Pour le Piano; BACH: Partita No. 2 – Monique Haas, piano – MeloClassic

by | Jul 3, 2015 | Classical Reissue Reviews

Monique Haas, Vol. 2 = SCHUMANN: Kreisleriana, Op. 16; MOZART: Piano Sonata No. 8 in A Minor, K. 310; DEBUSSY: Pour le Piano; BACH: Partita No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 826 – Monique Haas, piano – MeloClassic MC 1024, 78:13 [] *****:

A second document collated by MeloClassic celebrates the inexhaustible wealth of talent exhibited by French artist Monique Haas (1909-1987), here in recital materials inscribed by German radio, 1948-1951.  Fluency, strength and poetic lyricism mark every measure of a Haas performance, often startling in the clarity and bold enthusiasm of her line. The 1901 Debussy suite from Frankfurt, 1 July 1951 – the very composer, along with Ravel, Haas came to represent almost in spite of the breadth of her repertory – resounds with Baroque figures, nimble and ‘learned’ at once in the opening Prelude. The Haas glissandos become an aural spectacle in themselves, for their distinctive, “Javanese” sonority and forward motion. Debussy calls for a “grave and slow elegance” in the Spanish Sarabande, and Haas imposes a gravity and ‘singing declamation’ in her voicing of this noble piece that likes to vacillate between C-sharp Minor and a clarion E Major. The often demonic barriers to a successful rendering of the closing Toccata Haas executes with a palpable relish in her own colorful articulation of the stretti.

Haas opens with the Schumann 1838 Kreisleriana (20 November 1948, Frankfurt), a suite dear to her heart but not part of her commercial repertory. The polarity of emotion originally described by E.T.A. Hoffmann – and the composer Schumann’s alter egos Florestan and Eusebius – find a responsive proselyte in Haas, who tries in the more “balanced” sections to invoke Master Raro, whose name derives from the perfect fusion of ClaRA and RObert in androgynous harmony.  Haas possesses a marvelous capacity for vocal, arioso expressivity, and her tone remains affectionately warm. Each of the sections marked Sehr by Schumann receives a light, deft brush of extraordinarily fleet colors.  While the bold exclamations manifest themselves in a style certainly consonant with the exclamations of Horowitz, the intimate, introverted aspects of Schumann’s art shine in their own terms.

Even the liner notes by Charles Timbrell refer to the emotive similarity between the Haas 1788 Mozart A Minor Sonata (13 June 1951, Stuttgart) and famous EMI studio recording by Dinu Lipatti.  Supple power tinged by a sense of tragic destiny suffuses this performance of Haas as it does the Lipatti, who was indeed fatally ill at Besancon 1950 for his last-recital of Mozart.  A visceral sense of emotional turmoil permeates the opening Allegro maestoso, in which the cadence in major find themselves subverted by the bass line.  That many commentators find much of the sturm und drang sensibility in the Andante cantabile justifies the assertion in the Haas realization, which begins in relative repose and moves to a revelation of personal anguish. The Presto conclusion seems a knot of contradictory emotions, expressive of a desire for light (C Major and later A Major) but somehow resigned to a bitter fate.

The Bach Partita in C Minor provides another work (rec. 19 October 1951, Frankfurt) Haas did not commit to commercial posterity. Besides the clearly bravura elements of her playing, we note how eminently dance-like the individual movements remain, and this is true even in the relatively staid Sinfonia with which the suite opens, with its obligations to a French overture. Haas seems to bask in the contrapuntal sonorities she unveils, and the momentum of the later, faster movements becomes quite hypnotic.  Her ability to present layered colors in nuanced shades of sound doubtless nods to her apprenticeship under Lazare-Levy and often makes this auditor compare her with the equally elegant Robert Casadesus.

—Gary Lemco

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