At first glance, this looks like the perfect Christmas present for Cuban music enthusiasts: a finely packaged box set that includes three CDs, released to mark what would have been the 100th birthday last month of the great singer and guitarist who became best known for his work with the Buena Vista Social Club, and who enjoyed worldwide success until his death in 2003 at the age of 95. But it's not quite what it seems. It's described as an "exhaustive overview" of Segundo's work, but it only covers his final recordings from 1996-2003. Which is unfortunate, for this is surely the right time to release a comprehensive retrospective of his extraordinary career.
Dinu Lipatti is one of those almost mythical figures of the piano cosmos. His star shone briefly, but with incredible intensity and its lingering aura threatened at times to obscure the view of his playing. Conductor Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) was repeatedly quoted: It was no longer piano playing, it was music, released from all earthly weight, music in its purest form, in a harmony that can be imparted only by one who was no longer of this world.