HD-Vinyls 24/96 (Philips) Ludwig van Beethoven – Complete Piano Sonatas on 13 LPs (Arrau)

Thank you Plato and Trottar for this fantastic gift – I took 2 records from Trottar’s box, that contains also the 5 Piano Concertos, that are not included in Plato’s box. Stay tuned for the Concertos, they come in the next weeks.
This Chilenian “Maestro” should be mentioned as the really greatest GENIUS of all Beethoven interpreters ever!!!!!!!!!!!!

# Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
# Performer: Claudio Arrau
# Vinyl (1962-70)
# Number of Discs: 13
# Format: FLAC (Tracks)
# Label: Philips
# DR-Analysis: DR 12-14
# Size: 13.6 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FileFactory

Claudio Arrau played with seriousness of purpose that could make other pianists seem like dilettantes and with respect for the composer’s score that bordered on veneration. He had nothing but scorn for pianists who played the opening of Beethoven’s Opus 111 with two hands instead of one because there were fewer risks. If something was technically difficult, Arrau assumed that the composer had written it that way because the difficulties had an expressive value that it was the interpreter’s duty to find.

Claudio Arrau’s Sonatas set is one for the ages. It is thoughtful, musically honest and inspired like no one else’s. True, it took me some time to realize this. But I’ve come to like Arrau’s interpretations, more than any other pianist’s. I don’t think it would right to talk about ‘the best’ Beethoven cycle, as there isn’t just one perfect way to the top, but so far I consider Arrau’s performances deeper and more satisfying than anyone else’s. He is unmatched in revealing the essence of the sonatas, and no one can hold a candle to Arrau’s injections of drama in fairly every piece. It is indeed as if you’re living through the sonatas yourself, as one other reviewer said.

Arrau takes a very serious, almost dark and tragic, approach to the sonatas. He may miss some of the music’s humor because of that, but on the whole the effect is very rewarding. On paper it may seem that Beethoven’s earlier works do not profit from Arrau’s approach, but it’s not true in reality. He performs these pieces as if they are just as important as the later works, and hearing him I can only prove him right. I’ve not yet heard anyone who makes these sometimes ignored pieces so interesting and powerful. The serious weight he gives to the very first sonata is amazing, especially in the last movement. The op.7 sonata is much more than just a pretty dancing piece. And even in the normally sunny second sonata, its dark sides are most significant in Arrau’s performance. The fifth sonata is played quite slowly but with so much content and attention to every moment that it is just breathtaking. Overall, Arrau’s bold and thoughtful playing reveals a great amount of hidden treasures in these sonatas and lets every phrase sing with great beauty.

Beethoven’s middle-period works like the Moonlight, Tempest, Waldstein and Appassionata are in equally superb hands, especially in the Appassionata whose outer movements are greatly intimidating and violent. No one quite captures the torrent towards the end in the Appassionata’s final as powerfully as Arrau does here, although Pollini’s live recording comes close. Arrau’s Waldstein is notable for its unusually slow first movement that yet remains fascinating all the way through. His Moonlight made me listen again to this piece that I got bored of a little. I don’t think the Moonlight’s last movement is weak, as others say. Maybe it doesn’t live up to the extreme standards of the rest of the set, but even then it is among the better renditions. Again, the more humorous pieces of this period are less swift and surprising than in other’s renditions. The final of the op.31/3 ‘Hunt’ sonata gives no single reason to laugh. But Arrau fills the gap with so much furious power and intensity that I strongly doubt which approach to prefer. The final of Les Adieux is heaven-storming instead of the usual children’s party treatment, and you may understand what I prefer.

And even after then, the highlight of the set hasn’t been reached: the late sonatas get that honour. Arrau’s arresting performance of op.101 is a hint of what’s coming after: the Hammerklavier. This sonata has of course received many legendary performances (Solomon, Gilels, Pollini, Rosen, Brendel, Serkin, Gould and Kempff are noly few) but Arrau does better than any of them. Listen how carefuly he prepares the opening bars, for instance, and then dives headstrong into the movement. The Adagio Sostenuto gets the most somber rendition I’ve heard, and the fugue is a model of precise articulation combined with effortless and even technique.

The last three sonatas then, all sound completely different from other recordings. Arrau gives a highly personal performance of the theme and variations of op.109, rather mannered and all but still convincing in its own way. The last variation is one of the greatest moments of all Beethoven, and likewise it is one of the most memorable performances of Arrau. The op.110 sonata is on a similar scale, with the fugue played in total devotion and concentration. There may be some doubts over the rather slow first movement of op.111, but Arrau leaves every bit of drama intact–in fact, I find that the slower tempo even adds to the intensity. The Arietta, too, is on the slow side, but it makes full sense, although I’d prefer a more rhytmical 3rd variation. Yet what follows is as heavenly and moving as any performance of this piece could become (notice the short stop he makes in between the leggieramente figures around 11.00; just brilliant!), not to mention the incredible trills near the end.

This is a Beethoven sonata set for the ages, a great investment if there ever was one.

Ripping Infos

  • RCM: Okki Nokki
  • TT: Clearaudio Champion Level II
  • Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
  • Phono amp: Pro-Ject Phono Box RS
  • ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
  • Pre Amp: Unison Research Unico Pre (Tube)
  • Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
  • Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
  • Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
  • Software: iZotope RX Advanced v2.02, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Light de-Clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no De-Noising

If You hear some clicks and pops here and there, Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music. Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.

  • DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
  • Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5

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Click on the “Donate”-button. Thank you very much !

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