The combination of Herbert von Karajan and the revered Romanian pianist Clara Haskil (1895-1960) was an ideal partnership. Karajan had an extraordinary rapport with her, describing her career as ‘a long and often sorrowful march to glory’ due to Haskil’s well documented ill-health. Since she and Karajan were contracted to different companies, they never recorded together which makes this live Salzburg performance to mark Mozart’s bicentenary in 1956 especially valuable. Haskil, notoriously self-critical wrote: “The concert tour with Karajan was unique and unforgettable.” Karajan’s reading of Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 is characteristically fleet-footed with great tension, a rare example of a live recording featuring the Philharmonia Orchestra and the conductor in concert together.
“Despite the presence of Karajan and the Philharmonia Orchestra, this recording belongs to Clara Haskil, whose reading of Mozart’s D minor Concerto, familiar from her studio recording with Markevitch, still leaves rivals standing over 60 years after her death. It’s not just the tone and limpid phrasing, but the way that she imbues every note with meaning.“ – BBC Music Magazine