Claudio Arrau's 1970 Philips recording of Liszt's B minor Sonata, not to be confused with his hard-to-find 1985 digital remake, remains unmatched in its fusion of technical finish, personal poetry, and spiritual depth. Under Arrau's immaculate, amazingly even and supple fingers, the piano's percussive components are transformed into fluid, organ-like sonorities that resonate from the bottom up. You may cavil with a rubato here or an italicized phrase there, yet there's nothing remotely self-regarding about this pianist's trembling theatricality. His bardic style both clarifies and reads between Liszt's lines without stepping upon or second-guessing them. Once you submit to Arrau's demanding journey, you'll be rewarded and nourished forRead more years to come.
The Bénediction de Dieu either can be powerfully sublime or static and trite, depending on the pianist. Arrau's serious, full-bodied approach pays profound dividends as he sings out the left-hand melody in long arcs against the right hand's caressing double notes. Likewise, his slower-than-usual Gnomenreignen comes off more like a tone poem than an étude, and Waldesrauschen's murmuring filigree has gorgeous color and quiet strength (notice the longing with which Arrau inflects its rising chromatic melody).
To fill out the recital, Philips includes Vallée d'Obermann, arguably the high point of Arrau's great 1969 Philips Liszt recital (when will this be reissued singly?). It's instructive to hear how Arrau projects the music's brooding angst and harmonic tension through means of color, touch, and timing, in contrast to the pronounced tempo fluctuations and textural rewrites Vladimir Horowitz imposed on the score. While both approaches are convincing, Arrau's faith in Liszt's urtext results in a final peroration that organically flows from what came before, rather than sounding like a tacked-on octave étude. Philips' 24-bit transfers reveal more tape hiss than previous CD editions and show a brighter if slightly harsher top end. No Liszt lover should be without these transcendent performances. And even if you don't love Liszt, Arrau's singular artistry will win you over. [2/17/2002]
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Sonata for Piano in B minor, S 178by Franz Liszt Performer:
Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1852-1853; Weimar, Germany Date of Recording: 03/1970 Venue: Johannesstift, Berlin, Germany Length: 32 Minutes 15 Secs.
Concert Etudes (2) for Piano, S 145by Franz Liszt Performer:
Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: ?1862-63; Rome, Italy Date of Recording: 03/1970 Venue: Johannesstift, Berlin, Germany Length: 7 Minutes 51 Secs.
Piano Sonata in B minor, S.178: Lento assai - Allegro energico
Piano Sonata in B minor, S.178: Grandioso - Recitativo -
Piano Sonata in B minor, S.178: Andante sostenuto -
Piano Sonata in B minor, S.178: Allegro energico - Andante sostenuto - Lento assai
10 Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S.173 - 3.Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude: Moderato -
10 Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S.173 - 3.Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude: Andante -
10 Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S.173 - 3.Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude: Più sostenuto quasi preludio - Andante semplice
2 Etudes de Concert, S.145: No.1 Waldesrauschen
2 Etudes de Concert, S.145: No.2 Gnomenreigen
Années de pèlerinage: 1e année: Suisse, S.160: 6. Vallée d'Obermann
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
WonderfulMarch 30, 2013By Robert Neil See All My Reviews"I have heard a number of artists play the B minor Sonata of Listz including Evgeny Kissin and Emil Gilels but seldom have I heard it played so ravishingly as claudio Arrau."Report Abuse
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