Claudio Arrau

Chopin: Études; Allegro de Concert

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Perhaps rightfully, Claudio Arrau never recorded Chopin's etudes again. What could he have done that he had not already done in his 1956 EMI recording? His technique was essentially flawless. In each and every etude, Arrau executes the scales, the arabesques, the arpeggios, the chords, the octaves, the double octaves, the double octaves in contrary motion, and whatever else is required of a super virtuoso pianist with the utmost skill. More than that, his interpretations were quintessentially poetic. In the earlier Opus 10 set, Arrau finds the emotional depths of the A minor and E minor etudes, the emotional exhilaration of the C major and C minor etudes, and the emotional passion of the C sharp minor and E flat minor. In the later Opus 25 set, Arrau goes even further, touching on the quick-beating heart of Chopin's inspiration with the lightness and dexterity of a surgeon -- or a lover. In the Three Nouvelles Études, Arrau is more tender, while in the rarely recorded Allegro de concert in A major, he is more virtuosic; in both works, Arrau is unfailingly awe-inspiring. Only intermittently available in the half century after its release, EMI has restored Arrau's Études to the catalog through this 2007 Great Recordings of the Century reissue, and though the original sound is somewhat dated, it is still clear and clean enough to let the performances shine through.

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