Dinu Lipatti died of Hodgkin's disease in December 1950 at the age of 33, and the recordings on these seven discs are essentially his entire recorded legacy, a legacy which is, by common agreement, sublime. Lipatti had an impeccable technique, of course, but it was his taste, his tone, and his interpretations that made him transcendent. Though his repertoire was necessarily limited by his illness, his taste was consummate with very little Baroque, almost a little late Romantic and hardly any Modern, but with great Mozart, great Liszt, and above all the best Chopin. In other words, Lipatti picked only the most quintessentially pianistic piano works to perform, and on that handful, Lipatti lavished his pure, clear, and ideally balanced tone. Whether in Bartók's angular Adagio religioso from his Third Concerto or Chopin's flowing Barcarolle or Bach's effervescent Gigue from his First Partita, Lipatti has measured each note's significance and its place in the whole, and then granted every note exactly the right weight and color, thereby creating performances of ineffable rightness. Lipatti's highest attribute, however, is the intensely spiritual quality of his interpretations. As even the acutely unsentimental Herbert von Karajan recognized, there was something otherworldly about the way Lipatti phrased a melody, shaded a harmony, and inflected a rhythm so that every line seemed to be singing with its own seraphic voice. His recording of Bach's Jesu bleibet meine Freude is the supreme example where Lipatti's effortless simplicity and complete objectivity allow the music's spirituality to radiantly shine through.
Also included is a recording of Lipatti's final concert performed less than two months before his death. Though clearly weakened by his disease -- he was unable to perform the last of Chopin's waltzes -- the concentrated fervor of his playing is awe-inspiring. Any listener with a heart will weep.