Glowing Reverence

When I visited the soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf at her home outside of Zurich in 1992 as part of my research into Dinu Lipatti, she asked me about a recording Lipatti had made of the Bach-Busoni Chorale ‘Wachet auf’. I was quite certain that Lipatti had not recorded the work, having seen the recording sheets for all of his sessions in the EMI archives the previous year, but she was insistent that he had. Back in Montreal, a collector friend of mine stated that he had a 78 disc of the work performed by the British pianist Solomon from around the time that Lipatti was recording at EMI. I transfered the disc and was amazed by the gloriously controlled but glowing playing. I sent the great diva a cassette, and back came a delighted response that it was indeed the recording she had been looking for, and that she had gotten the pianists confused over the course of the years.

It struck me as incredible that this beautiful recording should not have been widely circulated since its initial 1948 release on 78. It is now available on a 7-CD box set in the Icon series by EMI devoted to Solomon (which regrettably does not include some of his other marvelous performances from the same era). This track alone is worth the price of the set: Solomon plays at a tempo that would drag in another pianist’s hands, but he sustains the melodic line and terraces voices with remarkable control and beauty. A treasure.