The young Claudio Arrau made records in Berlin and London which reveal the lasting qualities of his pianism: a sovereign technical command, a deep patience and a gravitation towards weighty matters, enriched by his study with ‘philosopher pianists’ such as Busoni and Martin Krause, that resulted in these profound and impassioned recordings of Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin, most of which have not previously appeared on CD, and all of them newly remastered for this tribute to a master pianist of the 20th century.
Limited Edition 80-CD set presenting Claudio Arrau’s complete Philips and American Decca recordings plus his live recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4 with Leonard Bernstein (Amnesty International) on Deutsche Grammophon. Balancing invincible technical accuracy and virtuosity with rigorous intellectual and spiritual stimulation, Claudio Arrau played to probe, divine and to interpret the will of the composer, always faithful to the text. He viewed technique and virtuosity as inseparable from musical expression and constantly stressed the expressive, spiritual and creative power of virtuosity while downplaying its sensational aspect and suffusing every note with meaning.
"Arrau's Chopin – now available in a six-CD box (Philips 432 303-2) as part of Philips's Arrau Edition – is as far from moonstruck "sentimentality" as any Chopin ever was. But no performance of the Preludes is more sentimental, in Schiller's sense, than the version Arrau recorded for Philips in 1973. Its premise – that the cycle is a grand tragedy, the darkest thing Chopin wrote – is unmistakable. Even the prefatory C-major Prelude heaves with orgasmic rubatos – more weight, it seems, than the music can possibly bear. And yet, as Arrau packs each small berth with a world of feeling, the weight grips and holds. At times, the sheer density of emotion can seem suffocatingly intense. The Prelude No. 22, a Stygian descent, is surely Hades; the plunging scales of No. 24 rip the thread of life."
Claudio Arrau is widely considered by many to be one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. This collection contains many of Chopin works including the rarely performed pieces for Piano and Orchestra such as Rondo a la krakowiak, Fantasy on Polish Airs and Variations on Mozart's La ci darem la mano. Like most of Arrau's works, the Chopin is played very seriously, at slower tempo, but nevertheless is superb. The Preludes, Nocturnes are recommended the most, but this collection is a must have for any Arrau fan.
Anyone who thinks that Chopin's nocturnes are not "technically" demanding has obviously never spent time studying them. They are quintessential Chopin and demand infinite attention to matters of touch, pedalling, and tone production from start to finish A hasty or shallow performance, such as might work with the Fantaisie-Imromptu, for instance, will not suffice here. To play them well is no small task and requires a great deal of emotional investment tempered by a controlled technique; fortunately Arrau is up to the challenge, as this recording attests.
This big 12 CD set is part of EMI’s Icon series. The set therefore concentrates on mid-period Arrau. Companies such as Marston have brought out editions devoted to his earliest recordings on 78, and the later recordings, for example concerto collaborations with Haitink and Colin Davis, are very well known. Which is not to say that these EMI recordings aren’t well enough known; they certainly are.
Like other titles in this substantial Decca series, Ultimate Chopin is a box set devoted to recordings drawn from the label's prestigious backlist, designed to give beginners and casual listeners a well-rounded introduction to this Romantic master of piano music. The affordable package of five CDs includes Chopin's two concertos for piano and orchestra, as well as his solo keyboard works, such as the nocturnes, ballades, preludes, impromptus, and waltzes.
In celebration of Chopin’s 200th anniversary in 2010, here is the ultimate, complete, in particular priced 17-CD edition of the composer’s works, combining the very best recordings from the Deutsche Grammophon and Decca catalogs. Featured are some of the great Chopin interpreters of our time–Argerich, Pires, Pollini, Zimerman–with substantial contributions from particular pianists of the younger generation such as Rafał Blechacz and Yundi Li.