The name of Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti is known partly because of the mystique that accrues to those who die young. Lipatti succumbed to Hodgkin's disease in 1950, at the age of 33, leaving few recordings behind. A group of Chopin performances recorded months before his death went through several cycles of reissues in the LP era, and they're true marvels, with a mixture of almost liquid texture with an indefinable sense of evanescence and sadness. But, as annotator Mark Ainley pointed out in his booklet essay for this fine Japanese release (there are also Japanese notes, but they appear not to correspond with the English text), those 1950 performances fail to give a full picture of Lipatti's art. The recordings here were mostly made in 1947 and 1948 at Britain's Abbey Road studio, and their dynamic range is superior to that of the later recordings. There is also one rather uncanny set of recordings from 1937 of some of Brahms' four-hand waltzes on which Lipatti is accompanied by none other than famed French pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. These recordings uncover Lipatti recordings of Bach and Scarlatti; the opening arrangement of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (from the Cantata No. 147) by Myra Hess was one of Lipatti's trademarks, and his performance is a startling blend of accuracy and ecstasy. But the biggest revelation here is Lipatti's power and interpretive scope in the larger pieces, Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 56, and Liszt's Sonetto del Petrarca No. 104. These show that the intimate atmosphere of his final recordings was partly a consequence of his illness. Lipatti, who often performed Beethoven's concertos but never managed to record them, was a penetrating thinker on the large scale, with unusual phrase articulations that take on structural significance and plenty of volume when he needed it. Well remastered by the Japanese engineers involved, and highly recommended for anyone interested in this artist.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Cantata No. 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben," BWV 147 (BC A174)|
|Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, CT. 203|
|Waltzes (16) for piano, 4 hands (or piano), Op. 39|