Dinu Lipatti plays Chopin
As an erstwhile pupil of Cortot, it was perhaps not surprising that Lipatti always kept a special place in his heart for Chopin. This selection was first reissued on CD two and a half years ago. And thanks, primarily, to the 14 Waltzes, played in a non-chronological sequence of his own choosing, I doubt if the disc will ever find itself long absent from the catalogue. Like the solitary Mazurka, they were recorded in Geneva during his remarkable renewal of strength in the summer of 1950. The Nocturne and Barcarolle date back to visits to EMI's Abbey Road studio in 1947 and 1948 respectively.
Just once or twice in the Waltzes I questioned his sharp tempo changes for mood contrast within one and the same piece—as for instance in No. 9 in A flat, Op. 69 No. 1. But for the most part his mercurial lightness, fleetness and charm are pure delight. The Nocturne in D flat has long been hailed as one of the finest available in its passage ''from intimacy to drama, from tenderness to reverie'', as his biographers Tanasescu and Bargauanu once put it. And even though we know he himself (one of the greatest perfectionists ever) was not completely happy about the Barcarolle, for the rest of us this glowing performance has a strength of direction and shapeliness all its own. In fuller contexts there is just a trace of plumminess in the recorded sound. But no one need worry about that in the face of such artistry.