Claudio Arrau


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In these recordings of the piano music of Brahms, Claudio Arrau's performances are for the most part full of warmth and wisdom. The infinite vistas of the closing Andante con moto from Arrau's 1978 Ballades, the endless passion of the central Andante from his 1972 F minor Sonata, and, above all, the eternal verities of the central Adagio from his 1970 D minor Concerto with Haitink and the Concertgebouw, are among the ripest performances of late nineteenth century German piano music from the Cold War era. At the same time, however, it must be admitted that Arrau's technique unfortunately isn't quite up to the extraordinary difficulties of the opening movements of the F minor Sonata or the D minor Concerto or in the more physically demanding movements of the Handel and Paganini Variations. Still, even when he's not as good as he might once have been, Arrau is good -- very, very good. There are moments of ecstasy in every movement of every work -- Arrau's quietly rapturous duet with the Concertgebouw's principal cellist at the start of the B flat major Concerto's Andante, for example, is perhaps the most extraordinarily beautiful recording of the music ever made -- and these more than compensate for his occasional technical limitations. Anyone who knows and loves the repertoire will have to hear Arrau's performances especially as captured in Philip's incredibly realistic stereo piano sound.

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