Claudio Arrau

Claudio Arrau Performs Schubert [Box Set]

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Longtime fans of the pianistic genius of Claudio Arrau will no doubt already have his transcendent performances of Schubert's sonatas, impromptus, Moments musicaux, and Klavierstücke that he recorded for Philips in the early '80s and they will already have imbibed deeply and at length of their imponderable sublimity. Listeners coming to the recordings for the first time may wonder what it is his fans hear in these immensely slow and enormously deliberate performances. And make no mistake, Arrau's performances are immensely, incredibly, draggingly slow with Allegros sounding like Andantes and Andantes sounding like Adagios and enormously, unbelievably, ponderously deliberate with huge pauses and vast hesitations. But make no mistake, Arrau's performances are also incontestably transcendent. With the soul of a poet in his heart and the experience of a lifetime in his mind, Arrau finds depths in Schubert's music that few other pianists suspect even exist and expresses them with a honesty and humanity that are wholly compelling. Still, even longtime fans will have to admit that the bonus disc of previously unissued mid-'50s recordings of Arrau performing the Klavierstücke, the "Wanderer" Fantasy, and three Moments Musicaux are not only wonderfully impressive in their own right, but also a tremendous relief after so many profoundly slow performances. Philips' early-'80s sound was so vivid that one can at times hear the pianist's knuckles crack.

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