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Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas / Claudio Arrau [12-CD Collector's Edition]

Arrau,Claudio
Release Date: 05/08/2012 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001677002  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau
Number of Discs: 12 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Choosing a reference recording for a complete set of Beethoven sonatas really depends on your view of the composer and of the works themselves. Do you prefer a more “classical” approach, or something more heroic in the Lisztian Romantic tradition? Should the early works be viewed in light of the later ones? Can any single pianist project all of the riches that this music contains? For my money, Arrau comes the closest in answering this last question, and this latest reissue of the sonatas comes with his absolutely fabulous recordings of the three great variation sets (C minor, “Eroica,” and “Diabelli”), plus the Variations on an Original Theme in F major, Op. 34 for good measure.

Arrau, as we all know, belongs clearly to the
Read more Romantic school, to which he adds his own particularly rich keyboard sonority and brand of Germanic seriousness of purpose. These are, uniformly, “big” performances, grand in gesture, and yet you couldn’t say that Arrau treats the early works too heavily. There’s plenty of lightness and grace, say, in the prestissimo finale of the C Minor Sonata, Op. 10 No. 1 (first sound clip), or the two Op. 49 sonatas. Where Arrau does take things more deliberately, in the more Romantically inclined middle period and late sonatas, the music can certainly withstand the individuality of the approach. Consider for example the measured opening of the “Waldstein” Sonata (second sound clip), where the tempo allows for a particularly keen but never exaggerated observance of small details (the grace notes in the main theme), while the ample dynamic range makes the climaxes seem even more threatening and explosive then they otherwise would.

There are many elements that Arrau brings to these works that few others have matched. His trills are gorgeous, nowhere more so than at the conclusion of the Arietta of Sonata No. 32. He also has a real flair for Beethoven’s fugal writing, so critical to the “Hammerklavier” Sonata, the Sonata No. 31, and the variation sets. Beethoven’s contrapuntal writing almost always sounds strained, even tortured, and Arrau manages to project the music’s expressive tension without ever calling into question his actual technique. If the music sounds effortful, this is because Beethoven clearly wanted it to.

The mid-60s sonics have held up very well, capturing Arrau’s big but never harsh sonority quite well. Note that this set includes his 1952 mono version of the Diabellis, not his much later Philips remake. However, as Dan Davis pointed out in these pages, the timings between the two are remarkably similar, belying the notion that Arrau invariably became slower and stodgier as he aged. Even if this isn’t your only set of Beethoven sonatas, it surely ought to be one of them.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 2 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793-1795; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Sonata for Piano no 2 in A major, Op. 2 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Sonata for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 2 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794-1795; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 4 in E flat major, Op. 7 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Sonata for Piano no 5 in C minor, Op. 10 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795-1797; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Sonata for Piano no 6 in F major, Op. 10 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
7.
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 
8.
Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Sonata for Piano no 9 in E major, Op. 14 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1798; Vienna, Austria 
10.
Sonata for Piano no 10 in G major, Op. 14 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1799; Vienna, Austria 
11.
Sonata for Piano no 11 in B flat major, Op. 22 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
12.
Sonata for Piano no 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 "Funeral March" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
13.
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 
14.
Sonata for Piano no 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 no 2 "Moonlight" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
15.
Sonata for Piano no 15 in D major, Op. 28 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
16.
Sonata for Piano no 16 in G major, Op. 31 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
17.
Sonata for Piano no 17 in D minor, Op. 31 no 2 "Tempest" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
18.
Sonata for Piano no 18 in E flat major, Op. 31 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
19.
Sonata for Piano no 19 in G minor, Op. 49 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797; Vienna, Austria 
20.
Sonata for Piano no 20 in G major, Op. 49 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
21.
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 
22.
Sonata for Piano no 22 in F major, Op. 54 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804; Vienna, Austria 
23.
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 
24.
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 
25.
Sonata for Piano no 25 in G major, Op. 79 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
26.
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 
27.
Sonata for Piano no 27 in E minor, Op. 90 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814; Vienna, Austria 
28.
Sonata for Piano no 28 in A major, Op. 101 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
29.
Sonata for Piano no 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 "Hammerklavier" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1817-1818; Vienna, Austria 
30.
Sonata for Piano no 30 in E major, Op. 109 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1820; Vienna, Austria 
31.
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 
32.
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 
33.
Variations (15) and Fugue for Piano in E flat major, Op. 35 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Written: 1802 
34.
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 
35.
Variations (6) for Piano in F major on an Original Theme, Op. 34 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Written: 1802 
36.
Variations (33) for Piano on a Waltz by Diabelli in C major, Op. 120 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1819-1823; Vienna, Austria 

Sound Samples

Piano Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op.2 No.1: 1. Allegro
Piano Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op.2 No.1: 2. Adagio
Piano Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op.2 No.1: 3. Menuetto (Allegretto)
Piano Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op.2 No.1: 4. Prestissimo
Piano Sonata No.2 in A, Op.2 No.2: 1. Allegro vivace
Piano Sonata No.2 in A, Op.2 No.2: 2. Largo appassionato
Piano Sonata No.2 in A, Op.2 No.2: 3. Scherzo (Allegretto)
Piano Sonata No.2 in A, Op.2 No.2: 4. Rondo (Grazioso)
Piano Sonata No.5 in C minor, Op.10 No.1: 1. Allegro molto e con brio
Piano Sonata No.5 in C minor, Op.10 No.1: 2. Adagio molto
Piano Sonata No.5 in C minor, Op.10 No.1: 3. Finale (Prestissimo)
Piano Sonata No.3 in C, Op.2 No.3: 1. Allegro con brio
Piano Sonata No.3 in C, Op.2 No.3: 2. Adagio
Piano Sonata No.3 in C, Op.2 No.3: 3. Scherzo (Allegro)
Piano Sonata No.3 in C, Op.2 No.3: 4. Allegro assai
Piano Sonata No.4 in E flat, Op.7: 1. Allegro molto e con brio
Piano Sonata No.4 in E flat, Op.7: 2. Largo, con gran espressione
Piano Sonata No.4 in E flat, Op.7: 3. Allegro
Piano Sonata No.4 in E flat, Op.7: 4. Rondo (Poco allegretto e grazioso)

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