Classical review: The Last Recital

CD cover: The Last Recital by Dinu Lipatti (piano)

Historical Classics


Dinu Lipatti, Piano

Naxos 8.111366


This is the last recital by Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti in Besancon, France, on Sept 16, 1950. Less than three months later, he died from Hodgkin's Disease at age 33.

This recording taken from a radio broadcast includes two brief snatches of him playing improvised arpeggios, modulating to the key of the work to be performed. This practice was quite common in the first half of the 20th century. He does so before Bach's Partita No.1 and Mozart's Sonata In A Minor (K.310), performances of laser- like clarity and robust stature belying his ill health.

Two Schubert Impromptus (G flat and E flat major) and Chopin's Waltzes follow. These are played in his own chosen sequence, beginning with the Waltz In A Flat Major (Op.42). There are wrong notes along the way, but Lipatti's sheer vitality and lust for life lift these miraculous readings to an exalted level.

He played 13 waltzes (out of 14). Too exhausted to finish off with the flamboyant A-flat major Waltz Op.34 No.1, he substituted it with the Bach-Hess Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring. Unfortunately, that was not recorded. Instead, a studio recording of that same waltz from two months before has been included.

This life-affirming document demonstrates that music has the ability to touch hearts from beyond the grave.

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