Thursday, August 7, 2014

Claudio Arrau Plays Franz Schubert

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.
James Leonard

Source :

Claudio Arrau
Franz Schubert


Cd. 1

Piano Sonata in A, Op. posth. 120 D.664
1 I. Allegro moderato  11:30
2 II. Andante  5:16
3 III. Allegro  8:02

Impromptus, Op. 90 D.899
4 N° 1 in C minor  9:45
5 N° 2 In E-flat  5:31
6 N° 3 in G-flat  6:32
7 N° 4 in A-flat  8:17

Allegretto in C minor, D.915  6:39


Cd. 2

Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. posth. D.958
1 I. Allegro  11:30
2 II. Adagio  8:20
3 III. Menuetto (Allgro)  3:35
4 IV. Allegro  9:45

Piano Sonata in B-flat, D.960
5 I. Molto moderato  20:07
6 II. Andante sostenuto  10:49
7 III. Scherzo (Allegro vivace con delicatezza)  4:45
8 IV. Allegro, ma non troppo  8:20


Cd. 3

Piano Sonata in A, D.959
1 I. Allegro  15:31
2 II. Andantino  8:55
3 III. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)  5:45
4 IV. Rondo (Allegretto)  11:46


Claudio Arrau - p

Recorded between March 1978 & August 1982


No illustrated biography of any great artist would be complete without photographs of its subject in older age as well as on the crest of the wave. Discs are just as revealing of the passing of time. So I'm sure all keyboard aficionados of the future will be as grateful for these "Final Sessions", as the title goes, as for any of Arrau's earlier releases — to complete the picture. He was already 87 when recording these Schubert works in November 1990, just five months before giving what proved to be his last, extraordinarily revealing interview to Jürgen Kesting printed in the booklet included in this extra-specially packaged Vol. 1.
"People think that as you age you become mild and cautious, but it is the reverse. Love of life becomes stronger. Anyone who has lived his whole life intensely achieves even greater intensity in old age" was one of his observations that struck me most. What, then, is intensity ? Here, I think, it must be interpreted as fullness of heart, a heart at times almost weighed down by its wealth and depth of experience. Schubert, in contrast, died young, knowing only the "rapture and poignancy of first sensations". So while cherishing the disc as a supremely mellow portrait of the ageing Arrau, I would not recommend it to any student as the one and only way.
Of all the sonatas, the so-called 'Fantasy', D894 in G, responds best to Arrau's predilection for very leisurely tempos. His scrupulous observance of every dot and dash, every small dynamic gradation, allows you to appreciate the subtlety of Schubert's thought in a new way. Having in the Andante thought him too reticent in the first big outburst of protest, I very soon realized how much he was holding in reserve for the second. But is the Menuetto just a little too serious, a little too weighed and measured, for a dance? Younger players often bring a more carefree step to the finale too, though there is no mistaking his lightening of heart when Schubert suddenly trips into the unexpected key o f E flat in the middle of the journey. In the Moments musicaux it was only in the two F minor pieces (Nos. 3 and 5) that the words 'mild and cautious' (mentioned above) came back to my mind. In compensation he plays the last of the set in A flat with a Nunc dimittis-like profundity and peace as moving as any I have heard. The recording captures this artist's unmistakable tonal warmth and depth.
Joan Chissell, Gramophone [11/1992]

Souce :

Claudio Arrau
The Final Sessions, vol. 1


Piano Sonata in G major, D.894
1 I. Molto moderato e cantabile  18:51
2 II. Andante  11:28
3 III. Menuetto (Allegro moderato)  5:09
4 IV. Allegretto  9:37

Moments musicaux, D.780 (Op. 94)
5 N° 1 in C major, Moderato  5:53
6 N° 2 in A-flat, Andantino  6:51
7 N° 3 in F minor, Allegretto moderato  2:07
8 N° 4 in C-sharp minor, Moderato  6:03
9 N° 5 in F minor, Allegro vivace  2:48
10 N° 6 in A-flat major, Allegretto 7:51 


Claudio Arrau - p

Recorded at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland ; November, 1990

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Melanchthon said...

fcapeau said...

What a great performer !
Thanks, Mel, to shere these jewels.

Péter Makai said...

Many thanks, Mel!