Notes and Editorial Reviews
Arrau plays the last of Moments Musicaux with a Nunc dimittis-like profundity and peace. The recording captures this artist's unmistakable tonal warmth and depth.
No illustrated biography of any great artist would be complete without photographs of its subject in older age as well as on the crest of the wave. Discs are just as revealing of the passing of time. So I'm sure all keyboard aficionados of the future will be as grateful for these "Final Sessions", as the title goes, as for any of Arrau's earlier releases—to complete the picture. He was already 87 when recording these Schubert works in November 1990, just five months before giving what proved to be his last, extraordinarily revealing interview to
Jürgen Kesting printed in the booklet included in this extra-specially packaged Vol. 1.
"People think that as you age you become mild and cautious, but it is the reverse. Love of life becomes stronger. Anyone who has lived his whole life intensely achieves even greater intensity in old age" was one of his observations that struck me most. What, then, is intensity? Here, I think, it must be interpreted as fullness of heart, a heart at times almost weighed down by its wealth and depth of experience. Schubert, in contrast, died young, knowing only the "rapture and poignancy of first sensations". So while cherishing the disc as a supremely mellow portrait of the ageing Arrau, I would not recommend it to any student as the one and only way.
Of all the sonatas, the so-called 'Fantasy', D894 in G, responds best to Arrau's predilection for very leisurely tempos. His scrupulous observance of every dot and dash, every small dynamic gradation, allows you to appreciate the subtlety of Schubert's thought in a new way. Having in the Andante thought him too reticent in the first big outburst of protest, I very soon realized how much he was holding in reserve for the second. But is the Menuetto just a little too serious, a little too weighed and measured, for a dance? Younger players often bring a more carefree step to the finale too, though there is no mistaking his lightening of heart when Schubert suddenly trips into the unexpected key of E flat in the middle of the journey. In the Moments musicaux it was only in the two F minor pieces (Nos. 3 and 5) that the words 'mild and cautious' (mentioned above) came back to my mind. In compensation he plays the last of the set in A flat with a Nunc dimittis-like profundity and peace as moving as any I have heard. The recording captures this artist's unmistakable tonal warmth and depth.
-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [11/1992]
Works on This Recording
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