Claudio Arrau

Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1; Schumann: Carnaval; Arabesque

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These performances from 1942 and 1947 were recorded at the peak of Claudio Arrau's maturity and virtuosity; that is, from those years immediately before, during, and after the war, which Arrau spent in Germany. Arrau's 1942 Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 with Hans Rosbaum conducting the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra is deeply considered, wholly poetic, and technically astounding, and his 1947 Arabesque and Carnaval are wildly imaginative, deeply emotional, and technically astonishing. Both are among the best performances of the works ever recorded and both are surely the best Arrau ever recorded, and anyone who loves nineteenth century piano music and great piano playing should hear these recordings.

But not in this transfer. There were LP transfers of the Liszt Concerto issued in plain white jackets on the cheapest grade of vinyl that sounded better than this disc. The quiets crackle and the louds breakup. The thin textures evaporate and the full textures explode. The piano is a caricature and the acoustic is atrocious. This disc is wholly unacceptable.

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