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Beethoven, Chopin: Concertos / Arrau, Klemperer, Dohnanyi

Release Date: 11/15/2011 
Label:  Ica Classics   Catalog #: 5045  
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenFrédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau
Conductor:  Christoph von DohnányiOtto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Although the live April 6, 1959 Beethoven Fourth Concerto performance with Claudio Arrau and Christoph von Dohnányi has circulated in the underground, I believe ICA's "official" edition marks its first CD appearance. The October 25, 1954 Chopin E minor with Otto Klemperer has seen numerous long-playing editions, yet ICA's transfer from the original WDR source master tapes boasts a higher degree of amplitude, room ambience, and detail in comparison to, say, Graham Newton's clean yet relatively constricted transfer for Music and Arts.

Recalling the Chopin broadcast, Arrau told writer Joseph Horowitz that Klemperer had never conducted Chopin prior to their collaboration. The pianist expressed disappointment when
Read more rehearing it decades later; he indicated that he had somehow idealized the performance in his memory. Be that as it may, Arrau is at the top of his game.

His rich tone, ample rubatos, wide dynamic inflections, and ever-present left hand eschew surface symmetry and charm in favor of large-scale drama and paragraphic sweep. What is more, Arrau's impeccable pianism displays a vibrancy and note-to-note continuity that leaves his relatively measured and placid 1970 studio recording behind, especially in the first-movement development section, the slow movement's decorative melodic arabesques, and in the Rondo finale's taxing runs and roulades.

Many of the same hesitations, accents, and rhetorical gestures characterizing Arrau's earlier and later Beethoven G major concerto studio recordings occur during the Dohnányi broadcast, yet the naturally robust acoustics with their perfect piano/ensemble balance conveys a more cogent and spontaneous sense of dialogue between soloist and orchestra that makes the interpretation sound faster than it actually is. Dohnányi, for his part, clarifies Beethoven's woodwind writing to more shapely effect than Haitink does in Arrau's 1964 Philips studio recording. For the record, Arrau plays the more commonly heard first-movement cadenza he used in all of his recordings. How can anyone go wrong with one of the greatest 20th-century pianists on prime form?

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 4/6/1959 
Concerto for Piano no 1 in E minor, B 53/Op. 11 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/25/1954 

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