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Icon - Claudio Arrau - Virtuoso Philosopher Of The Piano


Release Date: 03/22/2011 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 18432   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Felix MendelssohnLudwig van BeethovenJohannes BrahmsCarl Maria von Weber,   ... 
Performer:  Claudio Arrau
Conductor:  Alceo GallieraCarlo Maria Giulini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 13 
Recorded in: Mixed 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This big 12 CD set is part of EMI’s Icon series. I’ve dipped into it, but have not listened to everything.

Firstly a necessary word about transfers. Very little here has been remastered specially for this box. I noted only two Beethoven sonatas in disc 4; the Op.10 No.3 and Op.78, and the Schubert Allegretto D915 and the little March D606, which are both to be found in the ninth disc. Additionally the transfers of the classic Schumann and Grieg concerto disc derive from Testament’s release of this material. Everything else dates back variously
Read more to releases in 1988, 1991, 2001 and 2004 and the like. If you find this situation not to your liking you will have to wait until a similarly comprehensive collection arrives with newer restorations, or cherry pick things from Arrau’s recorded legacy that most interest you. For the more general listener, this very competitively priced box offers an opportunity to hoover a large chunk of his c.1955-62 recordings, adding the pre-war Schumann Carnaval, which was put onto 78s in April 1938, the Chopin Tarantelle similarly, and the two Debussy pieces which followed a year later.

The set therefore concentrates on mid-period Arrau. Companies such as Marston have brought out editions devoted to his earliest recordings on 78, and the later recordings, for example concerto collaborations with Haitink and Colin Davis, are very well known. Which is not to say that these EMI recordings aren’t well enough known; they certainly are.

This then is an outline of what you’ll find in this box. There’s the 1955-58 cycle of the Beethoven concertos with the Philharmonia and Galliera .in which Arrau excavates a myriad of bass detailing and plays with a measured assurance not always shared by Galliera.

There are nine sonatas including the Appassionata, Waldstein, Les Adieux, Opp.110 and 111, EMI capturing the pianist in a mix of mono and stereo. One can contrast these examples of his 1950s with the Philips recordings of all 32 sonatas made in the 1960s. In the main he is a touch more determined and measured in the later performances, though Philips’ sound is certainly better. His Appassionata is perhaps the very best of the Icon sonatas – intensity, rugged selflessness, a broad conception but one that he sustains perfectly according to his lights. But running it close is op. 101, in which conception and execution are in perfect accord, and the tonal qualities he evinces are wholly impressive. So too for that matter the last two sonatas, brilliantly realised, intense, nobly powerful, shorn of all artifice and false gestures.

Both Brahms concertos are with Giulini, and they show both soloist and conductor in lingering, and loving form - too much so really, as the powerful romanticism generated tends to work against the two concertos’s more direct qualities. The Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Schumann are with Galliera. The Schumann is finely played, though perhaps a little dour overall. The Grieg is not Arrau’s finest hour, and his elastic phrasing tends to pull it about far too much. One wouldn’t immediately turn to Arrau for Tchaikovsky and indeed one’s presentiment that there will be a lack of brilliance and bravura is rather borne out. Disc nine is devoted wholly to Schubert – the D946 Klavierstücke, the Wanderer Fantasy and the aforementioned Allegretto and March, but there is also the D780 Moments Musicaux. Also the Third Chopin sonata and F minor Fantasie, both outstandingly well done, and all the Etudes.

Finally, you might want to read my review of Carnaval with differing couplings, but a similarly disappointing Schumann concerto, in its Naxos release and in a competing ‘Early’ Arrau two disc set from Marston. There’s also the < Chopin Etudes in the same EMI transfer.

Conclusion time: if you’re content with older remasterings, which are pretty reasonable, than you can confidently acquire this box. It has central Arrau repertoire in mostly outstanding performances. It’s also exceptional value for money.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Variations (32) for Piano in C minor on an Original Theme, WoO 80 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Sonata for Piano no 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803-1804; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Sonata for Piano no 26 in E flat major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809-1810; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Sonata for Piano no 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804-1805; Vienna, Austria 
10.
Sonata for Piano no 22 in F major, Op. 54 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804; Vienna, Austria 
11.
Sonata for Piano no 7 in D major, Op. 10 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
12.
Sonata for Piano no 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
13.
Sonata for Piano no 28 in A major, Op. 101 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
14.
Sonata for Piano no 31 in A flat major, Op. 110 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 
15.
Sonata for Piano no 32 in C minor, Op. 111 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821-1822; Vienna, Austria 
16.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in D minor, Op. 15 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854-1858; Germany 
17.
Konzertstück for Piano and Orchestra in F minor, Op. 79 by Carl Maria von Weber
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1821; Dresden, Germany 
18.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1881; Austria 
19.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
20.
Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 16 by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1907; Norway 
21.
Pieces (3) for Piano, D 946 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/1990 
Venue:  La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland 
22.
Fantasy for Piano in C major, D 760/Op. 15 "Wanderer" by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
23.
Allegretto for Piano in C minor, D 915 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Vienna, Austria 
24.
Minuet for Piano in C sharp minor, D 600 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1814; Vienna, Austria 
25.
Moments musicaux (6) for Piano, D 780/Op. 94 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823-1828; Vienna, Austria 
26.
Sonata for Piano no 3 in B minor, B 155/Op. 58 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
27.
Fantasie for Piano in F minor/A flat major, B 137/Op. 49 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
28.
Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 10 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1833; Poland 
Date of Recording: 1956 
29.
Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 25 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832-1836; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1956 
30.
Nouvelles Etudes (3) for Piano, B 130 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1956 
31.
Allegro de concert in A major, B 72/Op. 46 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832-1841; Paris, France 
32.
Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Alceo Galliera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841-1845; Germany 
33.
Carnaval, Op. 9 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
34.
Tarantella for Piano in A flat major, B 139/Op. 43 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
35.
Tarentelle styrienne "Danse" by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1890; France 
36.
Estampes (3) for Piano: no 3, Jardins sous la pluie by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903; France 

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