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Claudio Arrau In Recital, 1969-1977

Beethoven / Arrau
Release Date: 11/13/2012 
Label:  Music & Arts   Catalog #: 1263   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenRobert SchumannJohannes Brahms
Performer:  Claudio Arrau
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Mono & Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas: No. 7; 1 No. 13; No. 23, “Appassionata” 3; No. 30 4; No. 32 5. “Eroica” Variations, Op. 35 6. SCHUMANN Piano Sonata No. 1 7. BRAHMS Piano Read more Sonata No. 3 8 Claudio Arrau (pn) MUSIC & ARTS 1263 (3 CDs: 219:14) Live: Brescia 1-3 5/27/1973; 4-6 5/2/1977; 7 5/30/1969; 8 Turku 8/1975


Claudio Arrau’s playing in his later years had a rather fixed set of emotional characteristics—serious, pensive, searching, dramatic—and when the music that he played was in sync with those qualities, he was one of the greatest pianists. Like the EMI recordings of his contemporary Otto Klemperer, Arrau’s Philips recordings endure as an important legacy and reference, indispensable for their strength and structural insight, their careful, imaginative voicing and the judicious weighing of every texture. These newly issued live performances afford the chance to compare Arrau’s playing in concert to the studio. As one would expect, his carefully planned interpretations are maintained in live performance, but there’s the added advantage of hearing him play with greater abandon in the most exciting concert performances: the Beethoven “Appassionata” and Brahms’s Third Sonata.


The Brahms and Schumann sonatas were Arrau specialties and in both he invests the manic energy of their faster movements with control that elucidates their construction. His pacing of the sprawling Schumann Sonata is masterful and his playing is truly soulful in its brief “Aria” slow movement. Unfortunately, the mono recording of the Schumann has the constricted, airless sound and quick decay that come from relying on one microphone placed inside the piano or in the very front of the hall. For that reason, his studio version of the sonata—the most convincing performance of the work that I know—is preferable. (The Beethoven performances here, also in mono, are better recorded.)


The Brahms, from a recital in Finland, was recorded in stereo sound that captures Arrau’s distinctively powerful but never forced sonority. It’s an inspired performance, explosive in the huge opening movement, and entirely convincing in the formally problematic finale. His patient, inward playing of the second movement communicates the ideas that he expressed about it in Joseph Horowitz’s invaluable Conversations with Arrau . “For me, it is the most beautiful love music after Tristan , and the most erotic, if you really let go, without any embarrassment. And if you play it slowly enough.” He does.


Among the Beethoven performances, his “Appassionata” is notable for its very expansive pacing that allows the maximum buildup of the work’s drama. As in the Brahms, he “lets go” to fine effect in Sonata No. 23’s first and third movements’ outbursts and climaxes and, unlike many pianists in this sonata, he is extremely faithful to Beethoven’s dynamics, many of which are quiet. (By comparison, a new steely-sounding performance of it by Valentina Lisitsa on Naxos has a dynamic range that ranges from around mezzo-forte to fortississim o .)


Preceding Sonata No. 23 in his 1973 Brescia program, Arrau gave a lively, carefully articulated performance of the early Sonata No. 7 that features playing of maximum intensity in Beethoven’s groundbreaking Largo e mesto slow movement. When it comes to music of such powerful expression, Arrau doesn’t differentiate much between early and late Beethoven, or Beethoven and Liszt, for that matter. His performance of the elusive Sonata No. 13 gives the work a more assertive, even heroic cast than usual. Sonata No. 32 receives a sober, solid performance that seems just a bit prosaic compared to more incisive, inspiring versions by Gulda, Richter, Michelangeli, and Schnabel. In Sonata No. 30 Arrau’s engagement with the lyricism and tenderness that pervade the first and final movements and his intelligently planned, flexible rubato that enhances the music’s rhetoric, make this a very special performance.


It’s in reference to Sonata No. 7 that Arrau, in Conversations with Arrau , expresses his amazement that Edwin Fischer called the work’s finale “humorous”—which, I strongly believe, it is—declaring that “humor has nothing to do with music, humor has to do with thoughts and words. Only in artificial sense can one say that music is humorous”. He goes on to say that he never finds music funny.


The limitations of this outlook take their toll, I think, on most of his performance of Beethoven’s Eroica Variations , which is, in large part, a comic work. (So, come to think of it, is the mock-heroic “Eroica” from Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes. ) Arrau’s performance, with the predictable exception of the dignified, slow 15th variation, sounds just a little gruff or stodgy where the work’s humor could be better communicated by means of a lighter touch, sharper articulation, and comic timing in general. But these are minor reservations in relation to the strengths of the best performances in this collection.


FANFARE: Paul Orgel
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Works on This Recording

1. 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 
Date of Recording: 05/27/1973 
Venue:  Brescia, Italy 
Notes: Mono. 
2. Sonata for Piano no 13 in E flat major, Op. 27 no 1 "Quasi una fantasia" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/27/1973 
Venue:  Brescia, Italy 
Notes: Mono. 
3. 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 
Date of Recording: 05/27/1973 
Venue:  Brescia, Italy 
Notes: Mono. 
4. Variations (15) and Fugue for Piano in E flat major, Op. 35 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Written: 1802 
Date of Recording: 05/02/1977 
Venue:  Brescia, Italy 
Notes: Stereo. 
5. 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 
Date of Recording: 05/02/1977 
Venue:  Brescia, Italy 
Notes: Stereo. 
6. Sonata for Piano no 30 in E major, Op. 109 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1820; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/02/1977 
Venue:  Brescia, Italy 
Notes: Stereo. 
7. Sonata for Piano no 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 11 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832-1835; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/30/1969 
Venue:  Brescia, Italy 
Notes: Mono. 
8. Sonata for Piano no 3 in F minor, Op. 5 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/1975 
Venue:  Turku, Finland 
Notes: Stereo. 

Sound Samples

Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10, No. 3: I. Presto
Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10, No. 3: II. Largo e mesto
Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10, No. 3: III. Menuetto: Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10, No. 3: IV. Rondo: Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat major, Op. 27, No. 1: I. Andante
Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat major, Op. 27, No. 1: II. Allegro molto e vivace
Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat major, Op. 27, No. 1: III. Adagio con espressione
Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat major, Op. 27, No. 1: IV. Allegro vivace
Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, "Appassionata": I. Allegro assai
Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, "Appassionata": II. Andante con moto
Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, "Appassionata": III. Allegro ma non troppo
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Introduzione col Basso del Tema
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 1
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 2
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 3
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 4
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 5
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 6
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 7
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 8
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 9
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 10
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 11
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 12
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 13
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 14
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Variation 15
15 Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations": Finale: Alla Fuga
Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109: I. Vivace ma non troppo
Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109: II. Prestissimo
Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109: III. Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung: Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo
Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111: I. Maestoso - Allegro con brio ed appassionato
Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111: II. Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile

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