Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Frederic Chopin, Claudio Arrau|
Chopin: Études; Allegro de Concert
Listen to Samples
David Saemann | 04/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You may ask yourself why you need a recording of the Etudes in somewhat tubby monaural sound, when there are excellent modern versions by Lortie, Perahia, Biret, and, across two CDs, Freire. Well, this is Arrau at the peak of his virtuoso years for EMI, when his interpretations were less worked over than they became during his Philips years and featured an absolutely exquisite piano tone and technique of execution. Don't get me wrong: The later Arrau remained a fascinating artist, but for the Etudes, Arrau's earlier incarnation was almost ideal. Not that this is barnstorming playing; Arrau can be very subtle when he wants to be. This is some of the most poignant Chopin playing in the catalog, in addition to being technically outstanding. If you have been deterred in exploring Arrau's Chopin by his opulently indulgent versions of the Concertos with Eliahu Inbal, there is no need for any reservations here."
Great Performance, but alas, not a Great Recording
Rubén | US | 06/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Others have written about the musical merits of this recording (see the earlier CD release from 1987); my comments here relate to the actual recording. I've had the 1987 CD release for years and was thrilled to see it had been remastered in 2007. Sadly, 20 years of improvements in CD mastering (i.e 24-bit, SACD, ART, etc.) can only go so far when the original 1957 performance was so poorly recorded. Bottom line: any improvements in fidelity are negligible. If you already own the '87 CD, you won't gain much in the '07 version - however, if you don't have the '87, the merits of the performance outweigh the sonics. Plus, the '07 contains the obscure Op. 46, which the '87 does not. Just pretend it was recorded in '47, not '57."
The etudes as music by a 20th century master
jsa | San Diego, CA United States | 07/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even though Claudio Arrau often played Chopin in concert and recorded some of the etudes and other shorter pieces as early as 1928, his name was never linked with Chopin in the way it was with Beethoven, Brahms or Liszt. Arrau embarked on an ambitious plan to record the major works of Chopin when he signed with Decca in the early 1950's, but this project never made it beyond the Ballades, Impromptus and Scherzos. Somehow, his way with Chopin never seemed to click the way, for example, Rubinstein's did and the project was discontinued. Fortunately Arrau then signed a contract with EMI & in 1956 set down both books of the Chopin Etudes which for many years were reference recordings of these challenging works. (Rubinstein only recorded a few of the etudes & rarely played any in recital because he admitted that some were simply too difficult to do justice to.) EMI included Arrau's Chopin Etudes in their "Great Recordings of the 20th Century" series and I concur that these are among the best recordings of this pianist's considerable career.
Those who are familiar with Arrau's interpretations will not be surprised to find that his approach to the etudes was to focus more on the musical elements rather than rattling them off as mere technical exercises. Nevertheless, there is plenty of excitement, muscle & drama here, plus poetry without sentimentalism. Underneath everything is a sort of extravagence that I find very appealing, reflecting Arrau's connection to the great players of the 19th century. The op. 25 etudes are tremendously powerful - especially #10 which is a statement of epic proportions. I've never heard it played with such a buildup of tension, something Arrau was a master at.
The three Nouvellles Etudes are beautifully played and the Allegro de concert is a dashing display of glitter that summons up the image of Chopin at the piano in one of his salon recitals. Just wonderful stuff.
If you like to hear the etudes as a blaze of steely notes, then by all means get Pollini's recording. But if are looking for a mature musical statement by one the great pianists of the 20th century, then acquire this Arrau disc."