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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grandioso!, 25 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Icon - Claudio Arrau - Virtuoso Philosopher Of The Piano (Audio CD)
This wonderful collection of studio recordings (mainly produced by Walter Legge) supplies a rich portrait of the "middle Arrau", painted just before the starting of his great Philips period. The majority of the items has already been published as single CDs or in other box-sets, but something has been newly remastered and something else is now difficult to find. Besides, some pieces will never be recorded again (in studio) by Arrau: Schubert's "Wanderer" and March in E - D.606; Chopin's Sonata No. 3, Etudes, Allegro de Concert in A and Tarantelle in A flat (rec. 1939), Debussy's Tarantelle Styrienne (rec. 1939) and, therefore, they represent invaluable documents.
Something is mono, something else is stereo (see for details the track-list below), but the general sound quality is very good, even if not excellent.

The concert "companions" are an elegant and essential (but not cold! on the contrary!) Alceo Galliera (Beethoven - all the 5 -, Grieg, Schumann, Tchaikovsky No. 1, Weber's Konzertstuck) and a warm and flawless Carlo Maria Giulini (Brahms Nos. 1 & 2), both conducting an attentive and precise Philharmonia Orchestra. While Giulini's fame does not ask for any adjunctive comment, Alceo Galliera is today quite forgotten, if not considered nothing more than a good conductor or accompanist. This last point must be considered a cursory mistake. Indeed, Galliera performed and recorded together with the greatest soloists of his epoch - Arrau, Lipatti, Schnabel, Gieseking, Benedetti-Michelangeli, Anda, Haas, Haebler, and then Oistrackh, Fournier, Thibaud, Brain, Goossens, and, more, Callas, Schwarzkopf, Moffo, Gobbi, Gedda, Alva, etc. - therefore, if he is actually an accompanist, he is the accompanist of the Masters! Anyway, Galliera's performances are here excellent and very very refined, in the pattern of the best Italian conducting tradition, that is "drying" the orchestral score to its essentiality (that does not mean simplification, but improving musical meaning without overwhelming soloists' parts) and keeping it within its functional role, not trying to unnecessarily attract a spotlight on the "Maestro" and on his "bravura". As a matter of fact, if you attentively listen to Galliera's conduction, many passages, with the most elegant easiness, catch and masterfully express the composition nuances within a context-sensitive and meaningful approach.

In any case, the added value of this box-set is that it supplies a complete anthology concerning with Claudio Arrau as passing from the sparkling neoclassical approach of the 1940s' and of the first half of 1950s' (the zenith of this "first period" is, in my opinion, represented, on disc, by the famous recordings of Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, Fantasia in E minor on Hungarian Folk Songs and of some of his Hungarian Rhapsodies, see: Liszt;Piano Conc.1/Fantasia or Concerto Pour Piano N1), to the warmer and metaphysical interpretations of the 1960s' and over. Therefore, here the recordings span from 1956 to 1962, but, in the last CD, there are also some retrospective recordings, very interesting for a stylistic comparison with the "first Arrau": the famous 1939 recording of Schumann's Carnaval (still considered a reference performance), the rare 1938 recording of Chopin's Tarantelle, Op. 43, and the 1939 recording of Debussy's Tarantelle Styrienne and Jardins sous la pluie.
Someone thinks that in the sixties Arrau (born 1903) started his slow decline. This is not my opinion at all. The recordings here presented are superb interpretations of absolute value and, also if Arrau would have retired after their executions, many of them would be still unsurpassed. On the contrary, here Arrau has not still reached his zenith, but he is starting a fundamental period of transition towards it, where transition does not necessarily mean something poorer or less valuable. As a matter of fact, here, doubtless, Arrau still has (and, for a long time, will have) his virtuoso maximum strength and valuably enriches it with some marvelous new bud, another crop of his long-life "recherche". He is winning his enduring struggle against ego and vanity and his performances will be increasingly driven by soul and transcendency. Surely this sort of engrafting is difficult, risky and delicate and asks for courage and attentiveness; here, someway, we clearly feel that something will be soon overshadowed (not denied!) and, on the other side, that something has not yet completely accomplished and that none (Arrau himself!) can be sure of the forthcoming achievements. Indeed buds will not wither; indeed, in the brighter and warmer light of a different and higher kind of consciousness, gorgeous flowers will plentifully bloom. A starting transfiguration: Grandioso!

Track-list:
CD 1
Ludwig van Beethoven 1770-1827
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op.15
[ 1] I. Allegro con brio 16.24
[ 2] II. Largo 10.55
[ 3] III. Rondo: Allegro scherzando 9.25

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op.19
[ 4] I. Allegro con brio 14.04
[ 5] II. Adagio 9.02
[ 6] III. Rondo: Molto allegro 6.33
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Alceo Galliera
Recorded: 1 - 3.V. and 7.X.1958, No. 1, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Harold Davidson & Francis Dillnutt
Recordings first issued in 1959 & *1960 by EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD

[ 7] 32 Variations in C minor, WoO.80 12.23
Recorded: 13.IV.1960, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Jellinek - Balance engineer: Harold Davidson
(P) 1961 EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
This compilation and digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI Records Ltd.

CD 2
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op.37
[ 1] I. Allegro con brio 16.53
[ 2] II. Largo 10.58
[ 3] III. Rondo: Allegro - Presto 9.24

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op.73 "Emperor"
[ 4] I. Allegro 20.29
[ 5] II. Adagio un poco mosso 7.47
[ 6] III. Rondo: Allegro - Più allegro 10.42
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Alceo Galliera
Recorded: 19 - 22.VI.1958, No. 1, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Douglas Larter
Recordings first issued in 1959 by EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD

CD 3
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op.58
[ 1] I. Allegro moderato 19.14
[ 2] II. Andante con moto 5.38
[ 3] III. Rondo: Vivace - Presto 10.06
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Alceo Galliera
Recorded: 30 & 31.V.1955, No. 1, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Jellinek - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1956 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI Records Ltd.

Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein"
[ 4] I. Allegro con brio 12.11
[ 5] II. Introduzione: Adagio molto - 4.17
[ 6] Rondo: Allegretto moderato - Prestissimo 10.39
Recorded: 1 & 22.XII.1956 and 19.V.1957, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: William Mann and Alan Melville - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1958 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI Records Ltd.

Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux"
[ 7] I. Adagio - Allegro (Les Adieux) 6.59
[ 8] II. Andante espressivo (L'Absence) 3.50
[ 9] III. Vivacissimamente (Le Retour) 6.04
Recorded: 4.IV.1958, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Jellinek - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1959 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI

CD 4
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata"
[ 1] I. Allegro assai 10.26
[ 2] II. Andante con moto 7.05
[ 3] III. Allegro ma non troppo - Presto 8.12
Recorded: 11 & 12.IV.1960, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge & Walter Jellinek - Balance engineer: Harold Davidson
(P) 1961 EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI Records Ltd.

Piano Sonata No. 22 in F major, Op. 54
[ 4] I. In tempo d'un Menuetto 5.59
[ 5] II. Allegretto 6.15
Recorded: 13 & 14.IV.1960, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Jellinek - Balance engineer: Harold Davidson
(P) 1961 EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI Records Ltd.

Piano Sonata No. 7 in D, Op. 10 No. 3
[ 6] I. Presto 6.37
[ 7] II. Largo e mesto 10.12
[ 8] III. Menuetto: Allegro 2.50
[ 9] IV. Rondo: Allegro 3.55
Recorded: 6.X.1958 & 15.X.1959, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Douglas Larter and Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1960 by EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 2011 by EMI Records Ltd.

Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp, Op. 78
[10] I. Adagio cantabile - Allegro ma non troppo 7.20
[11] II. Allegro vivace 3.00
Recorded: 8.IV.1958, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1959 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 2011 by EMI Records Ltd.

CD 5
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101
[ 1] I. Allegretto ma non troppo 4.20
[ 2] II. Vivace alla Marcia 5.06
[ 3] III. Adagio ma non troppo, con affetto 2.40
[ 4] Allegro 8.07
Recorded: 30.XI & 1.XII.1956, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1958 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD

Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110
[ 5] I. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo 7.15
[ 6] II. Allegro molto 2.16
[ 7] III. Adagio ma non troppo 3.53
[ 8] Fuga: Allegro ma non troppo 7.14
Recorded: 18.V.1957, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge & Alan Melville - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1958 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD

Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111
[ 9] I. Maestoso - Allegro con brio ed appassionato 9.01
[10] II. Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile 19.53
Recorded: 21 - 23.V.1957, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge & William Mann - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling & Edward Huntley
Recording first issued in 1958 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
This compilation and digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI Records Ltd.

CD 6
Johannes Brahms 1833-1897
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op.15
[ 1] I. Maestoso 23.28
[ 2] II. Adagio 15.06
[ 3] III. Rondo: Allegro non troppo 12.54
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini
Recorded: 21 - 23.IV.1960, No. 1, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Harold Davidson
(P) 1961 EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1988 by EMI Records Ltd.

CD 7
Carl Maria von Weber 1786-1826
Konzertstück in F minor, Op. 79
[ 1] Larghetto affettuoso 6.18
[ 2] Allegro passionato - Adagio 5.06
[ 3] Tempo di marcia - Più mosso 2.25
[ 4] Presto giojoso 4.31
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Alceo Galliera
Recorded: 19.IV.1960, No. 1, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Harold Davidson
(P) 1961 EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 2004 by EMI Records Ltd.

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op.83
[ 5] I. Allegro non troppo 19.11
[ 6] II. Allegretto appassionato 9.17
[ 7] III. Andante* 12.05
[ 8] IV. Allegretto grazioso 9.57
* Raymond Clark, cello
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini
Recorded: 21 & 22.IV.1962, No. 1, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Francis Dillnutt
(P) 1962 EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1988 by EMI Records Ltd.

CD 8
Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky 1840-1893
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op.23
[ 1] I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso - Allegro con spirito 21.20
[ 2] II. Andantino semplice - Prestissimo - Tempo I 7.46
[ 3] III. Allegro con fuoco 7.06
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Alceo Galliera
Recorded: 18 & 19.IV.1960, No. 1, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Harold Davidson
(P) 1961 EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI Records Ltd.

Edvard Grieg 1843-1907
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.16
[ 4] I. Allegro molto moderato - Cadenza - Tempo I 14.32
[ 5] II. Adagio 6.55
[ 6] III. Allegro moderato molto e marcato - Andante maestoso 10.46
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Alceo Galliera
Recorded: 19 & 20.IV.1957, No. 1, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1958 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 2001 by Testament

CD 9
Franz Schubert 1797-1828
3 Klavierstücke, D.946
[ 1] Impromptu No. 1 in E flat minor 15.21
[ 2] Impromptu No. 2 in E flat 15.37
[ 3] Impromptu No. 3 in C 5.13
Recorded: 2 & 3.IX.1956, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: William Mann - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1959 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1988 by EMI Records Ltd.

Fantasy in C "Wanderer", D.760
[ 4] Allegro con fuoco ma non troppo 6.32
[ 5] Adagio 7.49
[ 6] Presto 5.15
[ 7] Allegro 3.22
Recorded: 22 & 25.X.1957, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: William Mann - Balance engineer: Harold Davidson & Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1959 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 1988 by EMI Records Ltd.

[ 8] Allegretto in C minor, D.915 c6.05
[ 9] March in E, D.606 4.12
Recorded: 15.X.1959, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Legge - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recordings first issued in 1959 by EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 2011 by EMI Records Ltd.

CD 10
Franz Schubert
6 Moments musicaux, D.780
[ 1] No. 1 in C 5.35
[ 2] No. 2 in A flat 7.11
[ 3] No. 3 in F minor 1.59
[ 4] No. 4 in C sharp minor 5.48
[ 5] No. 5 in F minor 2.08
[ 6] No. 6 in A flat major 9.00
Recorded: 3 & 4.IX.1956, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: William Mann - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1959 by EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 2011 by EMI Records Ltd.

Frédéric Chopin 1810-1849
Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op.38
[ 7] I. Allegro maestoso 14.44
[ 8] II. Scherzo: Molto vivace 2.41
[ 9] III. Largo 10.35
[10] IV. Finale: Presto non tanto 5.19
Recorded: 14, 24 & 25.IV. and 21.VI.1960, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London

[11] Fantasy in F minor, Op. 49 13.11
Recorded: 21.VI.1960, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Walter Jellinek - Balance engineer: Harold Davidson
(P) 1962 EMI Records Ltd. STEREO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 2001 by EMI Records

CD 11
Frédéric Chopin
12 Études, Op.10
[ 1] No. 1 in C 1.55
[ 2] No. 2 in A minor 1.22
[ 3] No. 3 in E 4.31
[ 4] No. 4 in C sharp minor 2.16
[ 5] No. 5 in G flat 1.41
[ 6] No. 6 in E flat minor 2.53
[ 7] No. 7 in C 1.37
[ 8] No. 8 in F 2.23
[ 9] No. 9 in F minor 2.09
[10] No. 10 in A flat 2.14
[11] No. 11 in E flat 3.00
[12] No. 12 in C minor 2.27

12 Études, Op.25
[13] No. 1 in A flat 2.25
[14] No. 2 in F minor 1.43
[15] No. 3 in F 2.04
[16] No. 4 in A minor 2.18
[17] No. 5 in E minor 3.24
[18] No. 6 in G sharp minor 2.06
[19] No. 7 in C sharp minor 5.18
[20] No. 8 in D flat 1.09
[21] No. 9 in G flat 1.04
[22] No. 10 in B minor 4.29
[23] No. 11 in A minor 3.36
[24] No. 12 in C minor 2.29

3 Nouvelles Études
[25] No. 1 in F minor 2.05
[26] No. 2 in D flat 2.24
[27] No. 3 in A flat 2.04

[28] Allegro de concert in A, Op.46 12.22
Recorded: 15 - 22 & 29.VI. and 5.IX.1956, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Alan Melville and William Mann - Balance engineer: Neville Boyling
Recording first issued in 1957 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
This compilation & digital remastering (P) 2007 by EMI Records Ltd.

CD 12
Robert Schumann 1810-1856
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54
[ 1] I. Allegro affetuoso - Andante espressivo - Tempo I - Cadenza - Allegro molto 16.45
[ 2] II. Intermezzo (Andantino grazioso) 5.54
[ 3] III. Allegro vivace 11.14
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Alceo Galliera
Recorded: 24.V.1957, Walthamstow Town Hall, London
Producer: Lawrance Collingwood - Balance engineer: Robert E. Beckett
Recording first issued in 1958 by EMI Records Ltd. MONO/ADD
Digital remastering (P) 2001 by Testament

Carnaval, Op. 9
[ 4] 1. Préambule 2.04
[ 5] 2. Pierrot 0.59
[ 6] 3. Arlequin 0.35
[ 7] 4. Valse noble 1.06
[ 8] 5. Eusebius 2.04
[ 9] 6. Florestan 0.51
[10] 7. Coquette. 0.57
[11] 8. Réplique 0.52
[12] 9. Papillons 0.40
[13] 10. A.S.C.H. - S.C.H.A. (Lettres dansantes) 0.46
[14] 11. Chiarina 0.45
[15] 12. Chopin 1.25
[16] 13. Estrella 0.32
[17] 14. Reconnaissance 1.49
[18] 15. Pantalon et Colombine 0.52
[19] 16. Valse allemande 0.31
[20] 17. Paganini (Intermezzo) 1.03
[21] 18. Aveu 1.00
[22] 19. Promenade 2.11
[23] 20. Pause 0.18
[24] 21. Marche des »Davidsbündler« contre les Philistins 3.32
Recorded: 3 & 4.IV.1939, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Unknown
Balance engineer: Unknown
MONO/ADD - Digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI Records Ltd.

Frédéric Chopin
[25] Tarantelle in A flat, Op.43 2.41
Recorded: ??.??.1938, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Unknown - Balance engineer: Unknown
MONO/ADD Digital remastering (P) 1991 by EMI Records Ltd.

Claude Debussy 1862-1918
[26] Danse (Tarantelle styrienne) 4.54
[27] Estampes - No. 3 Jardins sous la pluie 3.35
Recorded: 4.IV.1939, No. 3, Abbey Road Studios, London
Producer: Unknown - Balance engineer: Unknown
MONO/ADD
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest of the Greatest, 3 Oct 2011
By 
Eric Shanes (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Icon - Claudio Arrau - Virtuoso Philosopher Of The Piano (Audio CD)
This box is worth having for just disc 5 alone, for it contains the greatest performance ever committed to disc of arguably the greatest piece of music ever written: Arrau's matchless rendering of Beethoven's piano sonata no 32 in C Minor, op. 111. Hear the way he plays the arietta from the fourth variation onwards, and all other performances you have heard or ever will hear will sound superficial by comparison. It transports one to the stars, and beyond. And all the other recordings in the box are extremely classy too. A real snip at the price.
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