Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Claudio Arrau (pn)
PENTATONE 5186 171 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 66:25)
Arrau was entering his seventies when these performances were taped—in quad—in March 1974. An omnicompetent technique was intact, while expressiveness, suggesting the
wisdom of a lifetime, blossomed. “Feux-follets” is punctilious yet quirky, leisurely and glowing, which is to say, not hustled. “Mazeppa” evinces more a canter than a gallop—virtuosically scintillant if not pyrotechnically coruscating—but still grandly compelling. If you want the fast-forward spin, try Freddy Kempf (BIS 1210,
26:5). The remaining
are magisterial in any company, that is, even the best of today’s pianists could learn from them. “Paysage” is all rapture; “Ricordanza” (which Busoni compared to a bundle of faded love letters) is a steady spate of surprises and felicities, like fond memories awakening; the expressive crescendo of “Harmonies du soir” takes one’s breath. And so on.
Where other players confront laborious detail, Arrau finds color and grandeur garlanding a narrative thread that he spins with compelling poetry—e.g., the heavily freighted melody of “Vision” eschews its customary lurch to emerge singing,
. Among the classic interpretations of the dozen
together—Kentner’s, Berman’s, Ovchinnikov’s, Gekic’s, Kempf’s—Arrau’s looms head and shoulders above the rest with a dignity animated by mercurial passion. Transferred to CD (Philips 416 458, probably in the early 1980s—the production is coyly undated), the analog sound is essentially stereophonic—caught with detailed punch as the piano flares into ambience—whether from two channels or four, with the additional clarity or depth one expects from SACD nonexistent or, at best, marginal. In either format, enthusiastically recommended.
FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
Works on This Recording
Transcendental Etudes (12) for Piano, S 139 by Franz Liszt
Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Written: 1851; Weimar, Germany
Date of Recording: 03/1974
Venue: Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Nehterlands
Length: 65 Minutes 18 Secs.
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