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Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau (1903–1991) was described at various times as ‘Prince’, ‘Emperor’ and ‘King’ of the keyboard, conveying something of the awe in which he was held.
Few artists of any generation prompted such consistent praise, a pianist who embraced virtually every part of the repertoire, including marathon cycles of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and Liszt.
Both these broadcast recordings are sourced from the original WDR tapes and not from dubious copies (Chopin Concerto) and have been remastered to a very high standard. In Chopin’s E minor Concerto, Arrau is partnered by Otto Klemperer, another legendary titan in this rare 1954 recording.
Here they create a musical place where there is no sense of an early lightweight alternative to Chopin’s later works. Critic Jed Distler wrote: “There is an emotional freshness and freedom from clichés that draws me into the playing, particularly in the vibrancy and note-to-note intensity of his best live performances. Idealised or not, Arrau's playing boasts a vibrancy and forward-moving sweep that sharply contrasts to his relatively measured studio recording”.
The Beethoven Piano Concerto No.4 shows Arrau playing with great freedom in this ‘live’ account from 1959 following his first studio recording in 1955. This recording appears for the very first time on CD.
Fryderyk Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11
I. Allegro maestoso
II. Romanza: Larghetto
III. Rondo: Vivace
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58