CLAUDIO ARRAU – The Emperor
Documentary by Peter Rosen
Includes full performance of Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat major, Op. 73, "The Emperor"
Claudio Arrau, piano
Chile Symphony Orchestra
Victor Tevah, conductor
Recorded live at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago, Chile, May 1984.
Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: Dolby Digital 2.0
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 85 mins
No. of DVDs: 1
Claudio Arrau was considered the complete pianist because he went beyond mereRead more technique, and took listeners into the mind of the composer as if he were a medium through whom the composer was speaking. He was therefore known universally as ‘The Emperor’. This DVD traces Arrau’s life from his birth in Chile in 1903 up to his triumphant homecoming in 1984 after a seventeen-year absence, and includes his own commentary on his life and music. It concludes with a performance of Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto in Santiago’s Metropolitan Cathedral given before 6,000 wildly enthusiastic young people.
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 & • Claudio Arrau (pn); Victor Tevah,cond; U of Chile SO • EUROARTS 2068548 (DVD; 85:00) Live: Santiago 1984
& Claudio Arrau: the Emperor
Identified as A Film by Peter Rosen, this is a two-part release, the first half offering an overview of Claudio Arrau’s life (he displayed mastery of the piano at the age of two) and fascinating revelations from those who knew him. One might say that a central theme of this part of the release is the affection his Chilean countrymen had for him. Members of his family and professional associates offer interesting insights as this biographical overview unfolds, notably that, despite his prodigious childhood, his ultimate success as a commanding virtuoso did not come easily. Running as a kind of central nervous system through the spoken part of this release is his being viewed in Chile as a national hero. And if claims made are accurate, his memory was on a par with Toscanini’s
The performance of the Beethoven “Emperor” Concerto is remarkable in that it offers a view that remained unchanged, at least in Arrau’s later years. The comparatively broad tempos he favors in outer movements, the technique that never falters, and the clarity his playing projects are remarkable, each trait suiting the work well and typical of his three impressive recordings of the piece. But the Chilean ensemble is not on the level of the orchestras with which Arrau worked in the studio: Philharmonia/Klemperer; Concertgebouw/Haitink; Staatskapelle Dresden/Davis. And in some respects the camerawork, despite focusing most of the time on Arrau’s hands, does so at an angle that makes it difficult to see his fingering. Nonetheless, for anyone interested in the pianist, this is a revealing release, both in its musical and biographical sections. The 1984 sound of the concerto (if not the best of the period) is certainly adequate.