I'm a fan of Arrau in Beethoven (mid-Sixties - not digital), Schumann and Liszt. His 1984 performance of the Emperor Concerto with Davis and the Staatskapelle Dresden is a barnstormer. Even so, Arrau was the Rubato Gladiator. In consequence, his Chopin is an acquired taste; as I'm no fan of mince pies, it ain't for me. Much the same could be said of his cycle of Mozart's sonatas, recorded towards the end of his life when he was husbanding his powers: it is too "superficially sophisticated" for such music and readily defaults to pointillism. The mere thought of Arrau in Haydn (tell me it does not exist!) makes one jumpy and nauseous.
These performances of Schubert's late sonatas are laboured - island-hopping is common - and ruinous from incessant point-making. The linkage between Schubert and Bruckner has been long established, not least in the vast spans of their expositions: Arrau's inability to develop a requisite momentum is calamitous. It's another "this and that" affair. The slow movements of D 959 and D 960 in particular are torturous: they would break even Jean Moulin. I was less hostile towards the Impromptus even if pianism is more prominent than what it should be. Recording-wise, the piano sounds somewhat recessed in the A Major; otherwise they're fine.
Go Kempff in D 958 and D 960 and Perahia (either recording) in the A Major.
While the analogy is unfair to Arrau who was a man of principle, these recordings remind me of a cobweb left behind by a deceased spider. Whilst the arachnoid is no longer in circulation, it continues to entrap the unwary.
2 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
Claudio Arrau brings his characteristic depth and gravitas to Schubert's final three piano sonatas. A set of impromptus is thrown in as a bonus. Although Arrau's interpretive powers are unsurpassed, what really separates these performances from the competition is beauty of tone and the superb recording quality. You can safely ignore any negative reviews. All of Arrau's Philips recordings are outstanding and this is no exception.