You say you've heard Glenn Gould's blazingly virtuosic Bach and Sviatoslav Richter's incandescently heroic Bach and Dinu Lipatti's supremely spiritual Bach -- but have you ever heard Claudio Arrau's sweetly lyrical Bach? Although widely acknowledged as one of the great pianists of the twentieth century, even longtime fans of the great Chilean pianist may not have heard his Bach. Of his handful of Arrau' Bach recordings, half were made very early in his career in 1945 and half were made very late in his career in 1991, and neither half received wide and sustained distribution. But early or late, Arrau's approach to Bach remained consistently and quintessentially lyrical, and whether in the 1945 performance of the Goldberg Variations or in the 1991 performances of four Partitas, Arrau's playing makes each line of counterpoint sing like a lieder melody. Coupled with his radiant tone, assured tempos, and almost impeccable technique, Arrau's interpretations could convince all but diehard contrapuntists that at heart Bach's was a lyrical art. Unfortunately, "almost impeccable" is the kindest way to describe Arrau's playing of the Partitas, which while still clearly articulated, are riddled with gaps and pauses. While for many listeners Arrau's Bach may be of slight interest, those who treasure his many other recordings of later composer's music may find this three-disc set fascinating. Philips' early digital sound is so immediate you can hear the pianist sigh. Philips' monaural sound is so honest you can't hear anything except the piano.