on 20 June 2007
I still remember the first time I heard these pieces and I couldn't believe what was coming out of the speakers. For the next hour I was transported into a world of music which I didn't know existed for the piano. That was twenty years ago and there's hardly a day that goes past when I don't think of them. It's not just the technical mastery of Arrau's playing which inspires, it's the mysterious worlds of sound which he creates and the sweeping romanticism of it all - they sound complete, just like they should be played. Other pianists sound clearer here or faster there, but he just seems to have it right all the way through. He was in his seventies when they were recorded, but they sound like the playing of a man in his prime. I read somewhere that he could play them all when he was eleven years old. I bet they didn't sound like this, though. Sometimes I imagine him taking the next sixty of his life to get them just right, but maybe that's just fantasy.
I can't recommend this recording highly enough. It's glorious.
on 1 February 2011
This is a marvel of a recording.
Points raised elsewhere about this CD are all truly, important and valid.
After all, Claudio Arrau teacher was Martin Krause a pupil of Liszt himself, so the tradition, the knowledge, the strive was passed on to Arrau already early in his years as a student of Liszt music.
"Liszt demanded more technique than one actually needed, so that the performance looked and sounded as if without effort..."
This remark by Liszt/Krause/Arrau - shed some light on the notion by those who might be looking for more showmanship or an "exhibition" in the playing of the stumbling blocks spread all over the notes.
The recording was extraordinarily made in Amsterdam in 1974 and 1976.
Philips does not give credits as to who the recording engineer was - as Philips hold those cards close to their chest - a secret...
The recording sounds like it was made at one of the Concertgebouw smaller (side) hall.
The piano is captured full-bodied with nice perspective and the correct sonority, tone, decay-time and bursts of dynamics.
It is a rare and a great achievement of a recording, one that should be at every Liszt aficionado's collection not only because of Arrau interpretation and the artistic mastery, but also because of the recording achievement.
One should note that this very recording appears lately on the Pentatone label as a SACD, where Pentatone is trying to capitalize on the Philips success with this recording, but;
The Pentatone imposter is just a travesty of the sound offered by the original Philips.