Chopin: Complete Preludes, Schumann: Papillons - Claudio Arrau
PentaTone RQR PTC 5186 165
Classical - Instrumental
Chopin: 24 Préludes Op. 28, 2 Préludes Op. Posth., Schumann: Papillons Op. 2
Claudio Arrau (piano)
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Review by John Broggio - June 3, 2007
Here is another gem of the historical catalogue rescued by Pentatone Classics for us all to savour. Claudio Arrau was not like many pianists of today – it was never enough for him to merely play all the notes in a display of technique (controlled or otherwise).
The principal work to which Arrau turns his serious mind on this disc is Chopin’s Preludes Op. 28. These fragment-like works can be treated as self-contained compositions in their own right but fare far better when, as Arrau manages here, they can be placed as a broad sequence of glittering gems. From the gloomy second prelude to the electrifying conclusion, Arrau’s pianism is beyond question (although there are moments when a little more delineation of melody and accompaniment wouldn’t have gone amiss); the quixotic moods are captured well and nowhere is the serious approach detrimental to any playful flecks of colour. This is not the most spontaneous playing on disc but it is far from being stilted either. The “extra” preludes are a natural addition to the main work and Arrau continues in the same vein that he left off in with Op. 28.
To finish the disc, we are given Schumann’s Papillons. This is playing of great sensitivity and tenderness but compared to some, like Perahia, Arrau lacks the final touch in fantasy that can illuminate this seemingly facile music.
The sound, from the Concertgebouw, is glorious with a deep, sonorous bass that is clean and never overwhelming. The upper registers of the Steinway piano do not have the crystalline brilliance that some Steinway technicians favour but for the more inward looking and reflective music, the sound is none the worse for this. There is practically no tape hiss to be heard (until vastly unrealistic playback volumes are chosen) and we are fortunate that Pentatone were able to transfer the, obviously very good, master tapes in such a sympathetic manner. One caveat: You can hear the sniff here or there but I was so caught up in the music it barely registered.
Copyright © 2007 John Broggio and HRAudio.net