Beethoven, Schumann: Piano Sonata in E flat, Op. 27/1; Fantasy in C, Op. 17

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Schumann
WORKS: Piano Sonata in E flat, Op. 27/1; Fantasy in C, Op. 17
PERFORMER: Claudio Arrau (piano)
Claudio Arrau (1903-91) heard and greatly admired Busoni, and was thoroughly ambivalent about Hofmann and Cherkassky, but his playing was less volatile and more ‘modern’ than either school. The chief value of these 1960 broadcast recordings of Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 27 No. 1 and Schumann’s Fantasy is their unusual degree of intimate spontaneity (possibly either enhanced or inspired by soft-grained piano tone) by comparison with other Arrau recordings of these works; in addition, he championed a distinctive temporal shape for the main them in the second movement of the Fantasy, and here realises that conception as effectively as possible. Finally, it’s good to hear him in Schoenberg’s Op. 11 (music he never recorded commercially), which he plays with insight and great conviction, achieving Brahmsian richness, delicate tracery and quasi-orchestral power as appropriate. Two discs of Beethoven concertos replicate the ‘Romantic’ v ‘German’ pianism divide illustrated by Cherkassky and Arrau.