Chopin – 26 Preludes, Schumann – Papillons Op.2 - Claudio Arrau - 1974, 2006 (SACD-R, ISO)

Chopin – 26 Preludes, Schumann – Papillons Op.2 – Claudio Arrau – 1974, 2006 (SACD-R, ISO)

Composer: Frédéric Chopin, Robert Schumann
Performer: Claudio Arrau – piano
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1 SACD-R
Format: ISO
Bit Depth: 64(2.8 MHz/1 Bit)
Number of channels: 5.0, 2.0
Label: Philips / PentaTone
Size: 2.8 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes
Server: rapidgator

Claudio Arrau
Frédéric Chopin – 26 Préludes
Robert Schumann – Papillons Op.2

Préludes Op. 28

01. Prelude No.1 in C
02. Prelude No.2 in A minor
03. Prelude No.3 in G
04. Prelude No.4 in E minor
05. Prelude No.5 in D
06. Prelude No.6 in B minor
07. Prelude No.7 in A
08. Prelude No.8 in F sharp minor
09. Prelude No.9 in E
10. Prelude No.10 in C sharp minor
11. Prelude No.11 in B
12. Prelude No.12 in G sharp minor
13. Prelude No.13 in F sharp
14. Prelude No.14 in E flat minor
15. Prelude No.15 in D flat “Raindrop”
16. Prelude No.16 in B flat minor
17. Prelude No.17 in A flat
18. Prelude No.18 in F minor
19. Prelude No.19 in E flat
20. Prelude No.20 in C minor
21. Prelude No.21 in B flat
22. Prelude No.22 in G minor
23. Prelude No.23 in F
24. Prelude No.24 in D minor

Prélude Nr. 25 Cis-moll · In C Sharp Minor, Op. 45

25. Prelude No.25 in C sharp minor, Op. 45

Prélude Nr. 26 As-dur · In A Flat, Op. Posth.

26. Prelude No.26 in A flat, Op. posth.
27. Robert Schumann – Papillons Op.2

One of the wonderful PentaTone RQR series of analogue Quad tape transfers to 5ch DSD Review by ramesh:

This PentaTone remastering incorporates most of the pieces from 2 Arrau LPs released in the mid 70s. The SACD contains the full LP contents of the 26 Chopin Preludes, but only Papillons from a Schumann anthology which originally also included Opp 15, 19 & 28. Arrau was born in 1903. These performances, recorded in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw between 1973 & 1974 are typical of his refulgent & majestic late style, without much of the ponderousness which afflicted most of his recordings from the late 1970s onwards. During the mid 70s, when I 1st started buying records, a clutch of Chopin Preludes appeared from the keyboard lions of the day. These included Ashkenazy, Argerich & Pollini. All 3, which I bought with scarce pocket money, are magnificent, virile interpretations, which placed Arrau’s deeply considered performances slightly in the shade. I never heard his performances until they were released in 1 of the 3 Arrau sets in Philips’ quixotic ‘Great Pianists of the 20th Century’ series. The fact that these performances were considered worthy to be included in this historic anthology speaks volumes for the calibre & representativeness of Arrau’s interpretations. This CD makes an interesting comparison to the PentaTone pure DSD remastering of the SACD.

Interpretatively, Arrau is the polar opposite to Argerich. Where the Argentinian is quicksilver, agile, explosive & barnstorming, her Chilean champion is ruminative & powerful, with a rich, golden piano sonority. As a rough generalisation, Arrau is most idiomatic in the slower Preludes, Argerich in the fleeter, with Pollini & Ashkenazy occupying a most distinguished middle ground. For my taste, the rubato which Argerich & Ashkenazy deploy sounds more flowing than Arrau’s or Pollini’s. Whereas Argerich presented the pieces as brilliant tonal miniatures, banded on the LP in groups of 2 or 3, what impresses in Arrau’s recording after several hearings is that he conceives the 24 Preludes as an organic entity, with an unmistakeable dramatic trajectory from the 1st piece to the last. This is some compensation for his overly sober performances of the famous C sharp minor prelude, which falls flat on its face, the B flat minor, & some of the other earlier ones. While it is exhilarating to hear Argerich’s hyperkinetic right hand almost leave both her left hand & keyboard altogether, it is this slight lack of pianistic outrageousness which detracts from Arrau’s conception of these works as pure pianism, while retaining its integrity as musicianship. Self-display & a tinge of vulgarity for Arrau are foreign concepts in the interpretation of this Polish master. Argerich is definitely the more memorable, but honours are split for artistic satisfaction.

I was surprised how the PentaTone remastering gave the entire performance a lift. There is a Universal Japan SACD of Arrau’s famous Liszt B minor, a 24bit/96 kHz transfer, but this Chopin remastering is even better. The midbass & lower treble generally sounds rather solid, even congested in many Arrau CD transfers, as though the pianist had surreptitously added another line of counterpoint in this region of the keyboard. The SACD clarifies the presentation wonderfully. Arrau’s lowest bass notes now toll like sonorous bells, for instance the beautiful A flat piece, as I imagine they must have sounded in the concert hall. Not only is the part writing clearer, but the general impression is that the performances are quicker, when they obviously aren’t.

‘Papillons’ as an interpretation & recording matches the Chopin. This straightlaced composition isn’t a particularly popular Schumann work, although it has its champions, such as Arrau & Richter. Arrau is lavish with repeats, which goes some way to explain the 16 minutes he takes over this small Schumann work. For instance, he observes this at the start of No 2 to incorporate a textual variant only in the repeat.

One of the best of the PentaTone reissue series so far.



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