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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
Clara Haskil Edition
Format: MP3 Download|Change

on 8 January 2011
These comments are less a proper review than a listing of this set's contents (perhaps someone else will be kind enough to transcribe all the recording dates). Not every performance is great, of course, but many are darn close to it, and none is poor. The level of Haskil's playing is very high throughout.

Among my especial favorites are the Mozart D minor concerto with Fricsay, the Kinderszenen, the second Waldszenen (CD 10; actually, all the solo Schumann is splendid, though to my taste she just misses communicating the profound weirdness of Vogel als Prophet), and all of CD 5. This last has a sparkling but tender performance of the seldom-recorded K. 415, a K. 466 that is a bit slower than the Fricsay-led performance but is none the worse for that, and a Nights in the Gardens of Spain in whose first movement Haskil and Markevitch unearth a vein of mystery that eludes even its otherwise greatest interpreter, de Larrocha, and her collaborators.

Both performances of the Beethoven C minor are taut and exciting, but the one conducted by Markevitch has just that extra degree of insight (he and Haskil were obviously in artistic sympathy). Both pairs of opus 31 sonatas also have terrific esprit (one thinks of Schnabel, especially in the brio of the finale of no. 3). I can't choose between them, though the brightness of the later recordings is hard to resist (indeed, it grabs you by the throat). The highly regarded performances of the Beethoven violin sonatas with Grumiaux have never sounded so good. I may be deceiving myself, but I hear an improvement in the balance between the instruments. All earlier releases, going back to the imported Philips stereo LPs, made the piano sound as if it were in the next room. Perhaps it was.

The Scarlatti sonatas are edgy and brilliant; Ralph Kirkpatrick played them similarly. Her way with the Ravel sonatine is reminiscent of Gieseking's in that she too, understanding that the surface glitter is a trap for the unwary, seeks out the music's sweetness and sentiment--its true gold.

Enough said, though I have only scratched the surface. If you admire this pianist and have the readies, this edition is a not-to-be-missed event. On to the details!

CD 1

W. A. Mozart
[1]-[3] Piano Concerto no. 9 in E-flat major, K271
Vienna Symphony / Paul Sacher

[4]-[6] Piano Concerto no. 20 in D minor, K466
[7] Concert Rondo in A major, K386
Vienna Symphony / Bernhard Paumgartner

CD 2

[1]-[3] Piano Concerto no. 20 in D minor, K466
[4]-[6] Piano Concerto no. 24 in C minor, K491
Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux / Igor Markevitch

CD 3

[1]-[3] Piano Concerto no. 19 in F major, K459
Berlin Philharmonic / Ferenc Fricsay

[4]-[6] Piano Concerto no. 23 in A major, K488
Vienna Symphony / Paul Sacher

CD 4

[1]-[3] Piano Concerto no. 20 in D minor, K466
RIAS Symphony Orchestra / Ferenc Fricsay

[4]-[6] Piano Concerto no. 27 in B-flat major, K595
Bavarian State Orchestra / Ferenc Fricsay

CD 5

[1]-[3] Piano Concerto no. 13 in C major, K415
Lucerne Festival Strings / Rudolf Baumgartner

[4]-[6] Piano Concerto no. 20 in D minor, K466
Winterthur Symphony Orchestra / Henry Swoboda

Manuel de Falla
[7]-[9] Noches en los jardines de España
Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux / Igor Markevitch

CD 6

[1]-[3] Piano Concerto no. 19 in F major, K459

Ludwig van Beethoven
[4]-[6] Piano Concerto no. 3 in C minor, op. 37
Winterthur Symphony Orchestra / Henry Swoboda

CD 7

[1]-[3] Piano Concerto no. 3 in C minor, op. 37

Frédéric Chopin
[4]-[6] Piano Concerto no. 2 in F minor, op. 21
Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux / Igor Markevitch

CD 8

Robert Schumann
[1]-[3] Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 54
Hague Philharmonic Orchestra / Willem van Otterloo

[4]-12] Waldszenen, op. 82

[13]-[15] Piano Concerto no. 4 in G major, op. 58
London Philharmonic Orchestra / Carlo Zecchi

CD 9

Domenico Scarlatti
[1] Sonata in E-flat major, K193
[2] Sonata in B minor, K87
[3] Sonata in F minor, K386

[4] 9 Variations on a minuet by Jean-Pierre Duport, K573
[5]-[7] Sonata in C major, K330

Maurice Ravel
[8]-[10] Sonatine

[11]-[18] Bunte Blätter, op. 99
[19] Variations on the name ABEGG, Op. 1

CD 10

[1]-[13] Kinderszenen, op. 15
[14]-[22] Waldszenen, op. 82

[23]-[25] Piano Sonata no. 17 in D minor, op. 31 no. 2 "Tempest"
[26]-[29] Piano Sonata no. 18 in E-flat major, op. 31 no. 3

CD 11

Franz Schubert
[1]-[4] Piano Sonata no. 21 in B-flat major, D960

[5-[7] Piano Sonata no. 17 in D minor, op. 31 no. 2 "Tempest"
[8]-[11] Piano Sonata no. 18 in E-flat major, op. 31 no. 3

CD 12

[1] Sonata in C-sharp minor, K247
[2] Sonata in G major, K2
[3] Sonata in C major, K132
[4] Sonata in G minor, K35
[5] Sonata in E-flat major, K193
[6] Sonata in F minor, K386
[7] Sonata in F minor, K519
[8] Sonata in A major, K322
[9] Sonata in B minor, K87
[10] Sonata in C major, K515
[11] Sonata in F major, K437

Padre Antonio Soler
[12] Sonata in D major

Giovanni Battista Pescetti
[13] Sonata in C minor

Franz Josef Haydn
[14] Variations in F minor

[15] 12 Variations in C major on "Ah, vous dirai-je Maman," K265
[16]-[18] Piano Sonata in F major, K280

CD 13

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas (Arthur Grumiaux, violin)
[1]-[3] Sonata no. 1 in D major, op. 12 no. 1
[4]-[6] Sonata no. 2 in A major, op. 12 no. 2
[7]-[9] Sonata no. 3 in E-flat major, op. 12 no. 3
[10]-[12] Sonata no. 4 in A minor, op. 23

CD 14

[1]-[4] Sonata no. 5 in F major, op. 24 "Spring"
[5]-[7] Sonata no. 6 in A major, op. 30 no. 1
[8]-[11] Sonata no. 7 in C minor, op. 30 no. 2

CD 15

[1]-[3] Sonata no. 8 in G major, op. 30 no. 3
[4]-[11] Sonata no. 9 in A major, op. 47 "Kreutzer"
[12]-[15] Sonata no. 10 in G major, op. 96

CD 16

Mozart: Sonatas for piano and violin (Arthur Grumiaux, violin)
[1]-[2] Sonata in G major, K301
[3]-[4] Sonata in E minor, K304
[5]-[7] Sonata in F major, K376
[8]-[10] Sonata in B-flat major, K378

CD 17

[1]-[3] Sonata in B-flat major, K454
[4]-[6] Sonata in A major, K526
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 May 2017
Those are familiar with Clara Haskil's most popular recordings will want this as a comprehensive collection of works by diverse composers, not just the Mozart she's best remembered for (and who is very well represented here).

You won't mistake any of these for recent recordings - their age is clear throughout, but don't let this put you off. Only one of them is anything less than acceptable - Schumann's Waldszenen on CD 8 is accompanied by a very obvious crackling (like bacon frying). All the other recordings are either very good or good.

The reason to buy this is not the recording quality, but the pianism. In every work, Haskil gives the a sense of getting to the heart of the music - there's no glitz or showmanship at all.

Several of the CDs also feature Haskil's long-time collaborator, Arthur Grumiaux, who was to the violin what Haskil was to the piano (in fact, each was actually very proficient on the other's instrument, and they sometimes swapped instruments for performances!)

Note that there is some duplication of works, with different orchestras and conductors. All are worth hearing.

If you're curious about this collection, you'll find much to enjoy in the in these beautiful interpretations.
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on 9 February 2015
My first exposure to the playing of Clara Haskil (1895- 1960) goes back to 1972, the year when I saw her on French television for the first time and heard her play Rachmaninov's 2nd piano concerto with the ORTF orchestra conducted I believe by André Cluytens. I instantly became a convert. I had never experienced such a memorable and moving musical event. As a result, over the years I have been avidly collecting all her recordings in all imaginable formats. The only thing I was never able to track down because there is no sonic trace of it in any form , is that famous concert which I was privileged enough to have heard and which I still vividly remember to this day. So, out of frustration , two years ago I bought this box set to update and complete my collection.
Why, may you ask , it took me so long to write this review ? Well, having read other customers' reviews which certainly make valid points apart from that inept and unhelpful comment to do with faulty cd surface, I still felt I owed a review to this special artist. After all, I did write long dithyrambic reviews about Artur Rubinstein and Svjatoslav Richter on this site.
Clara Haskil's name will for ever be associated with Mozart. Any knowledgeable piano music lover will have heard or will have in his/ her collection, her interpretations of some of the concertos, the solo sonatas and sonatas for piano and violin. They are undoubtedly the finest you are likely to hear anywhere. We are fortunate enough to have in this box set her complete legacy of the Mozart music she recorded in studio.
Admittedly, there are several versions of the same works like Schumann Kinderszenen and Waldszenen (1947 and 1955 versions) ,
Mozart piano concerto No 20 played with Paul Sacher, Ferenc Fricsay and Igor Markevitch and Beethoven 3rd piano concerto with Markevitch and Sacher. It will be left to the listener to compare and analyse the different versions. The Mozart Fricsay and Markevitch versions have become classic benchmark recordings
Of the other Mozart recordings, the piano concertos with Fricsay and the sonatas with Grumiaux have reached legendary status. These are readings which can only be described as perfect textbook Mozart playing.They sound spontaneous and true to the spirit of the music which seems to be played exactly as it was intended by the composer. In the violin and piano sonatas, you can marvel at the incredible touch, the subtlety of the pianist remarkably accompanied by Arthur Grumiaux who for once does not seem to want to overtake and occupy centre stage. What you hear on these discs can only be described as an aural massage, beautifully relaxing to the ears and emotionally charged beyond the apparent charm of the music. Clara Haskil was one of those rare artists who played the spirit of the music from inside. She was not concerned with projecting her own ego into the music or creating special effects to impress. She was once asked by a conductor with whom she was going to play a Mozart concerto, how she played this composer " roccoco or perfumed " to which she angrily replied :" neither. I simply play what he wrote ". Indeed such an uncompromising approach to music may not have been obvious at a time when pianists took liberties with the score to impress their public.This does not mean that she played the music from the score in a mechanical fashion. She interpreted the text to extract the essence of the music.That's why when required, she did not hesitate to put her personal musical ideas into practice. Several examples can be found in the box set to illustrate this point.
In the Mozart sonata K280, Haskil takes the slow movement at a faster speed than usual in order to allow the subtle emotional content to flow more freely, producing the most wonderful cantabile in the process. In the K386 rondo for piano and orchestra and the piano variations K 573 and K265, unlike other pianists who tend to treat these pieces as entertainment showpieces, she introduces by going right inside the music, a depth of feeling ,emotion and expression which makes you realise what real masterpieces they are.
In Beethoven's 4th concerto, the opening bars beyond their apparent technical simplicity present a challenge for any pianist to bring off as these very bars pave the way for the entry of the orchestra. Many pianists play it safe by strictly adhering to Beethoven's markings except that if followed too literally the whole beginning of the concerto flops into something with no spring , making the entry of the orchestra uninteresting and plain.Haskil solves the problem by quickening the pace slighly half way through giving the beginning greater contrast and when the orchestra comes in, there is a sense of greater cohesion and togetherness. Interestingly enough, Julius Katchen adopts a very similar approach in his remarkable 1963 recording of this concerto with Piero Gamba and the LSO. Did he listen to Haskil's 1947 version and was he inspired by it? One wonders.
The secret of her fabulous interpretations could be explained not only by her artistic instinct and judgement but also by her careful use and application of her musical ideas always at the service of the composer, backed up by a perfect technique.
However, it is a real shame that this box set does not give you a complete idea of Clara Haskil's repertoire. At the beginning of her career, she played virtuoso pieces such as Balakirev's Islamey, Liszt ( her playing of La Leggierezza can be heard on the French label Tahra ) . It makes you realise why some musicians claimed that her technique was superior to Horowitz's! She also played Schumann's Carnaval and Abbegg Variations, which caused Martha Argerich to respond in a very telling manner when asked what she thought of Haskil's account of the Abbegg by a French critic. She simply looked up towards the sky and whistled to indicate that Haskil's interpretation of these fiendishly difficult variations was beyond compare. If you listen to Christoph Eschenbach 's rendering of this work and compare it with hers, you are in for a shock. Haskil plays the piece as a virtuoso piece charged with subtle underlying emotions while Eschenbach ( who incidentally was one of the first recipients of the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition) sounds cautious and studied in his approach with a noticeably slower tempo.
On another occasion, Tatiana Nikolayeva related how she burst into tears on hearing Clara Haskil playing the opening bars of the Jeunehomme concerto with Karajan conducting. Yes, Haskil's playing had that rare abilty of moving you to tears.
It is no wonder that in the 50's wherever she played, she was adulated by the public and critics alike who hailed her as one of the greatest pianists who ever lived. Arnold Schönberg ,the famous music critic described her as a "saint among pianists". When she went on the Mozart Bicentenary Celebration tour with Karajan who had specifically asked for her as his soloist , the Austrian press wrote that she had been sent to Earth to play Mozart and members of the orchestra gave her cuttings of the reviews of her concerts she had given on that special commemoration to thank her for her extraordinary playing.
But back to her repertoire which beside the classic and romantic composers like JS Bach , D . Scarlatti, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert-and Chopin, also included incursions into the 20th century music with composers such as Debussy, Albeniz, Chabrier, Ravel and ...Hindemith with whom she played The Four Temperaments . Thankfully, a record of a memorable concert she gave with the composer conducting this work has been preserved for posterity and is still available on cd.
We have in the box set some incredible gems like the Beethoven solo sonatas and violin sonatas( out of this world), the ultimate Schubert D960 sonata ( simply sublime), the justly famous Schumann Kinderszenen and Waldszenen without forgetting her fabulous Chopin and de Falla who sounds as Spanish as one could wish for with guitar and castanets sound like effects produced by the pianist.
In my view, what makes these versions so special are Clara Haskil's uncanny abilty to adapt her playing to the stylistic requirements of the composer she plays. Her Schumann sounds as Schumannesque as you can hope for , like her Schubert. For instance in the Schubert's B flat sonata,the essence of the music is perfectly captured right from the beginning in the first movement. Her observation of the Molto Moderato tempo is musically convincing unlike Richter who seems to take the indication of tempo too literally and goes on producing one of the slowest, most laborious first movement ever played,destroying the musical and emotional content of the score in the process.
So, what was so special about her playing?
First, her total commitment and dedication to the composer's score,intentions and indications . She once heard a student pianist play a passage of a Schubert sonata. Having been asked what she thought, she pointed out that he had missed a semi quaver. The student then tried to minimise the slip by saying it was only a note. To which she replied , " that may be but it's one ninth of eternity gone". Secondly, her quest for absolute perfection which meant she was never satisfied with herself. On a specific occasion, she was playing all over and again, the same passage of a notoriously difficult passage from Schumann Davidsbündler with two awkward octaves. After four hours' practice, she wrote to her sisters that she could not play the passage exacltly as it was written by the composer and that her technique would not be good enough to help her pass the entrance exam to the Conservatoire de Musique! Such tendency to be self deprecating and lacking confidence in her own pianistic abilities was quite typical of her.
In fact, throughout her life she was constantly plagued by doubt and dissatisfaction, often putting herself in a position where she felt she was not good enough to be a world class pianist.She was rarely satisfied with herself and her performances, including her recordings. She was wrong of course but in a sense she was her own worst enemy. The great Dinu Lipatti who was a close friend of hers, having heard her play a Mozart concerto on the radio, contacted her and declared that if she ever thought of teaching Mozart, he would be her first student and he was being serious! High praise indeed!. But did she believe him? Probably not.
Like all great artists, Clara Haskil had a sound of her own, quite unique which had that ability to instantly draw in the listener. What you might call magic or magnetism. In this respect, this is something she shares with other truly great artists like Callas .Whether you hear her sing Tosca, la Traviata or Rosina , you can immediately recognise Callas's voice , so unique, so distinctive but so gripping and mesmerizing at the same time.
The same can be said about Clara Haskil's piano sound. When you hear her play, she has an instantly recognisable touch, with that rare crystalline, fluid quality, ideally suited to Mozart. It instantly draws in the listener like a magnet, You might say that as for Callas you fall under her spell. A lot has been said about Haskil's artistry. Her secret, I think lies in the fact that she never appears to do anything to the music which under her fingers seems to play itself, often leading to a sense of timelessness and eternity. In that respect, her playing of the opening movement of Beethoven Spring sonata with Grumiaux, of Schubert B flat sonata and Mozart K 280 second movement provide perfect illustrations Not only does the music flow in a seamless way but it also sounds eternal. Haskil always seems to play the music from within, allowing it to come to the fore like an incandescent light which warms you and enlightens you at the same time. With Haskil, you will never get any eccentricity or any idiosyncracy of any kind. As a professional pianist friend of mine said once: " the way she plays sounds so natural , so obvious that you feel you could sit down and play like her". More easily said than done of course.
Listening to Haskil is like being invited to a small circle of friends coming to share an enriching musical moment. Listen to her Scarlatti in this box set and tell me if you do not feel hypnotised and drawn into the music by her playing. Some historically well informed critics might raise an objection or two here with regards authentic style. Haskil's playing sweeps any reservation aside by recreating the Italian composer's miniature world in a masterly way. This recording is to be placed alongside Horowitz's famous Scarlatti recording in terms of insight,musicianship and technique.
You may also point to her lack of power in her playing at times due to her frail physique. She did find a way round to this and in my opinion successfully solved the problem by carefully grading the dynamics she produced. The best examples in that respect are the Schumann and Beethoven (3d ) concertos where by using subtle grading she manages to give the illusion of a bigger sound. Now , if you compare her interpretations to other famous versions of the works , musically and also technically, hers in my humble opinion, are the superior ones .
So, if you are after a unique ,unforgettable musical experience which will open your heart and your ears to what real music is about, do not hesitate for a second to invest in this incredible set who will give you a pretty good idea of Clara Haskil' s musical genius. Not my phrase by the way but Charlie Chaplin's who befriended her and declared that in the course of his life he had met three geniuses: Einstein, Churchill and Clara Haskil. I rest my case and...Clara Haskil's !
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on 27 October 2010
A wonderful collection of all Clara Haskil's studio recordings for Philips, Decca, DG and Westminster, this box is self-recommending to all lovers of fine piano playing. Because this is a complete edition, there are multiple recordings of some works but Haskil's musicianship is such that even four versions of the Mozart Piano Concerto no 20 (K466) don't seem too many! She plays both solo works and concertos by Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Falla. Also incuded are her performances of Mozart and Beethoven sonatas where her partner is Arthur Grumiaux.

Clara Haskil was one of a handful of pianists who truly deserve the epithet 'great'. She was always at the service of the music she played and her performances are full of moments of great insight, poetry and effortless technique. They are also uniquely satisfying.

How sad that this wonderful musician, who overcame enormous physical suffering, died at the relatively early age of 65. How glad we must be she has left us this wonderful legacy.

A splendid collection!
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on 1 February 2015
Clara Haskil is one of the truly great pianists of the century. This box displays her poetic abilities from different angels. The same item is in some cases found more than once, and it is interesting to hear her work with different conductors, She is heard as soloist in especially Mozart concertos and as chamber musician, as well as solo in Mozart and Beethoven sonatas and there is absolutely not a dull moment. A must for everyone interested in really fine and poetic piano playing.
The remastering is fine too!
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on 17 May 2015
Wonderful memories of hearing her when I was a child. Such compassionate playing
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on 21 August 2013
it is just a cheep product
maybe made from developing country of EU
Disc condition which i received had from first to 6th disc , all discs had numerous tiny dot like creeses which cannot be accepted quality from single disc jewel case packaged new cds.
So dont buy this set for the price reason its a trash for audiophile like me
decca should keep their manufacturing quality better.
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on 3 November 2014
Waiting for the complete Backhaus...
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