Claudio Arrau

Arrau Plays Chopin: The Two Concertos

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While Claudio Arrau later made magisterial recordings of both Chopin's piano Concertos in the early '70s with Eliahu Inbal conducting the London Philharmonic, the live recordings he made of the concertos from the early '50s are far more exciting, far more poetic, and far more ravishingly beautiful. Part of the reason, of course, was that Arrau was himself in his early fifties and at the top of his game. In his early fifties, Arrau was a more passionate player, a more sensual player, even a more reckless player than he was in his early seventies, so while there are more dropped notes and smudged phrases in these performances than in his later recordings, the fire and energy of his playing more than compensate for these small flaws. And part of the reason, of course, was that Arrau was performing with conductors who were more than the sympathetic accompanist that Inbal was. Otto Klemperer had apparently never conducted Chopin before this performance with Arrau and the iron man's excited discovery of Chopin fuels Arrau's excitement. Fritz Busch had conducted Chopin before and his partnership with Arrau is more comfortable but no less exciting than Klemperer's. While no one who reveres Arrau's playing would want to be without his later recordings, those who love his playing will want to hear these recordings, too. Music & Arts' sound is clean but antique.

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