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on 4 September 2010
I don't think I would want - if I had to recommend just ONE version of the Chopin Waltzes - not to make that version the justly famous Dinu Lipatti recording. Many superlatives have rightly been used to describe its unique balance between energy and sparkle, on the one hand, and deep lyricism on the other.
However, I find this Claudio Arrau recording deeply satisfying, too, and I come back to it again and again. Arrau was 76 when he made it, and while some of the performances suggest waltzes as recollected rather than immediately lived (Arrau as a younger man was a keen dancer) there is a richness of harmonic understanding deployed, and he is usually admirable in his gentle maintenance of the long line in each piece. There is no "flashiness", but elegance and affection aplenty. Tempi are certainly often more unhurried than you can hear elsewhere, but none of the pieces is becalmed, and Arrau gives himself the space to bring out the eventfulness of each piece, in terms of its emotional world. Maybe not every listener will enjoy this approach.
Favourite performances for me are the Waltz No 2 in A flat ("brilliant" in elegance, but not flashiness), the elegiac No 7 in C sharp minor, the slow section of which becomes a rêverie in Arrau's hands, and the little G flat Waltz No 11.
I have often found with piano recordings of the last few decades that I enjoy them most if they are being played in the next room, rather than in the room that I am sitting in. (It would be unfair to describe the recording quality here as over-close: it is, in fact, both clear and warm.) Even so, when heard from nextdoor, with just a fraction less detail and more space around the piano, this record gives even more pleasure and delight.
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on 20 July 2013
Claudio Arrau paces Chopin's lovely, timeless waltzes perfectly; a master at making complex passages sound effortless and beautifully simple. Perfect for anyone at any age who is a romantic at heart. Therefore, the perfect music for dreaming in the sunshine (or in the evening instead of most television nonsense) with a glass of something delicious!....
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