Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Schumann: Piano Works
Part of Claudio Arrau Heritage Series, Released by Universal France. 7cd Box Set.
Part of Claudio Arrau Heritage Series, Released by Universal France. 7cd Box Set.
A large assortment of Schumann from one of his most interest
Ryan Morris | Chicago, IL | 06/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I adore Schumann's piano music. I consider him to be among the towering giants in the history of pianistic composition. His influence was felt everywhere after, from Brahms, to Grieg, Prokofiev, Bartok, and many more. I have never tired of the endless wit and invention and the astonishing novelty that befuddled so many from his time, including his own wife. His music is difficult to play and is much harder to interpret than it sounds[hence a virtuoso wont be rewarded with a standing O compared to a Liszt Etude or the like] and it really requires a special brand of piano player to successfulyl reveal the multi-faceted pyschology of his best pieces. Perhaps thats why, when one surveys the best Schumann performances on record, the performers are usually those with their own unique personalitys-Sviatoslav Richter, Horowitz, Cortot, Youri Egorov, Radu Lupu, etc[Andras Schiff has also proven himself to be quite extraordinary in this rep].
To those names listed above, I would add Claudio Arrau. I must admit that this Schumann is different. It is big-boned on the surface with a more dominant left-hand than is customary, this is very introspective with a heavy left hand, intentionally building sonority over finding those inner voices a la Hofmann and Cortot. Five of the seven discs are new to the united states market. Arrau, along with Richter, might be the most perfect mind for Schumann's psychology, intellectual, and virtusoic demands. Case in point-the astounding interpretation of the Humoreske op20. This performance might be one of the finest things I have ever heard on record. It is, essentially, perfect. The pianism is absolutely breathtaking. After the intro, listening to the bullet like precision in his left hand with sparse to no pedaling, combined with the singing legato of his right[again no pedal so it is all hands and body] is an essay in craftsmanship. I have listened to this interp about a hundred times and every time I find something new. This version has been previously available of the Great Pianists survey, and, I believe, his Arrau Philips Celebration album[accompanied by the Fant op17]
Speaking of the Fant op17, again this is one of the most [in sync] performances of this warhorse I can think of, and there is stiff competition. Just listen to the intro and compare it with Richter, or Biss, or Kissin, Horowitz, Argerich, etc, and listen to the subtle dynamic shifts, the almost impossible legato[subtle perfection is what comes to mind] Again, Arrau has the perfect combination of drama and emotion without over-sentimentality, intellect, and virtuosity. Richter is the only pianist I can think of that can compare in these two pieces.
This collection comprised all of Schumann's major works, and many of his lesser known marvels. The complete Novellettes are of special interest since very few pianists play them beside the first[Schiff also played them all on his ECM release which is highly recommended-also contains a wonderful Humoreske].
Previously available on CD are the Carnaval,Kinder,Wald on a release-and of course the Piano Concerto-this one conducted by Davis, and the SymEtudes were available on a Music and Arts[or Appian] live recital.
The tone is captured marvelously on these discs and the sound is as fine as one could imagine-it sounds real-not like recent piano discs that sound like the piano must be the size of a volcano.
For those lucky enough to have Arrau 30's Carnaval-this is a much different take and a comparison of the two provi9des much insight into the mind of an aging master. The same can be said of his Kreisleriana previously available on Andante's Schumann collection-recorded some forty years earlier than this version.
I bought this foremost due to my love of Arrau. For those who are looking to acquire their first schumann disc, or want to get much of it at a reasonable cost-this collection is expensive-I would probably recommend the Ashkenazy set, which contains many wonderful performances.
However, if you are a fan of Arrau, this is an absolute must and much of this rep will be new to your collection."
Profound Schumann Playing by Arrau, But Also Some Disappoint
Doug - Haydn Fan | California | 06/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 2003 Philips box set of Arrau in Schumann, replacing an earlier 1991 box set, derives from a great number of Schumann recordings Arrau recorded for Philips during the stereo LP era. I have a bunch of the LPs - as well as several other Arrau sets issued on LP - and know these Schumann performances fairly well. Sometimes Arrau holds me - sometimes his playing doesn't achieve lift off. At least for me. I must add that over four decades a few of Arrau's stately readings have won me over a bit where in my youth I found them rather stolid. The orignal sound was generally good and I don't hear any problems here on the CDs with the reproduction.
To give a few examples of the selections:
Papillons: You won't find Arrau bubbling over with joyful enthusiasm - yet his playing is fully engaged and commanding, and there's notable pleasure and charm. He simply isn't going to overstate things, yet it's an appealing performance.
Kinderszenen: Not a good place to begin - Arrau is just too large scaled in viewpoint, and lacks the will-of-the-wisp quality these little gems thrive by. A few critics like this reading - one wonders why given the many delightful alternatives!
Blumenstuck: Again, too heavy, and too serious for the music's good. If you haven't figured out yet, Arrau tends - though not always - to the intellectual and contemplative in his playing - also he's not afraid of the grand statement. He often takes a very deliberate and measured way with music, which in certain works I find less than appropriate, and causes him to play rather too much against the grain.
The 3 Romances from Op.28: Come off far better - the dean of piano critics, Harris Goldsmith, raved about Arrau's performance, and Arrau does indeed offer up a striking achievement in these slyly enigmatic works. If you've always felt there was more to them than what you usually encounter in concert or on recordings, hear the Arrau!
The Nachstucke: Another of Arrau's best efforts - and a work not heard very often, but quite good Schumann.
The Humoreske: Arrau may not equal Richter in this work, few do, but Arrau offers up a very grand reading superbly conceived and wonderfully balanced. A truly memorable reading, and one that grows richer with repeated listenings.
Davidsbundlertanze: I certainly have nothing but admiration for how Arrau plays this wonderful music. Again, it's Goldsmith who sums up Arrau's approach to perfection: "Arrau patiently clarifies every strand of the writing with his supreme pianistic skill. His reading most closely resembles Kempff in its leisurely, singingly (!) expansive warmth, deliberate tempos, and dark, tender inwardness." Goldsmith goes on to point out that Arrau uses pretty much the orignal edition, before Schumann modified and edited it, the version normally played.
So as you might gather, there is much good pianism here. The basic issue I have with this set is not Arrau's playing, which has more than enough good stuff to recommend it - but rather Philips' merchandizing. The price is simply preposterous! EMI just issued a huge set of Yehudi Menuhin, containing more CDs (50) than a person could listen to in a month. And the price of that set (62 dollars) is barely more than one third the price of this set, with but 7 Cds! And if someone wants to quibble by pointing out the Menuhin is loaded with duplications and early mono recordings, than there's the latest David Oistrakh box set David Oistrakh: The Complete EMI Recordings What Philips - often pretty good about pricing - is doing here makes no sense. This Arrau set had been offered earlier as part of an Arrau edition, also at about the same ludicrous full price. If there's been no major restoration - or even if there has been - this box set of seven (7) CDs should now be reduced as befits its place in the release cycle. Please - someone at Philips had better wake up and smell the coffee - box sets at these prices are not going to move, even for famous pianists.
For those of you curious about Arrau in Schumann there are a few other alternatives. His Fantasy is certainly much more alive in concert than on the Philips set - you can hear it along with an excellent performance of Beethoven, (and even some Schoenberg!) The BBC Cd is given a fine accurate knowing review, too.Claudio Arrau Plays Beethoven, Schumann, SchoenbergFrom this Philips series a mere single Cd is offered...Schumann: Carnaval; Kinderszenen; Waldszenen Unfortunately this Kinderszenen is not at all recommended. (At least by me - Amazon's blurb person, Mr. Distler, actually claims he enjoys this leaden heavy-handed performance!) Absent that recording, I'm not sure what to suggest as a way of discovering more about Arrau's Philips series without breaking the bank. Maybe we can petition Philips to take a look around the industry and reconsider this stratospheric price. But until then I'll merely suggest you keep your eyes open for bargains used, or if you own a turntable, pick up the records used, they're usually not very costly, and the Philips pressings were fine - they should be in excellent condition if a bit compressed in sound.