Claudio Arrau

Beethoven Piano Concertos 4 & 5

(WHRA)

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I have adored the playing of Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau since I was a lad. Something in the consistent strength, weight and clarity of his playing, especially in Beethoven's music, characterised him not only as a great musician, but as one of those rare pianists whose actual sound is inimitable and instantly recognisable. He's long dead, but his many avid followers will be interested in these historic recordings of Beethoven's Fourth and Fifth concertos recorded live at Tanglewood in 1961 and 1960 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and, respectively, Charles Munch and Pierre Monteux. They feature vintage Arrau playing (with a few footfaults – it's live; it happens). The Fourth is stereo; the Emperor, a bit papery and compressed, is mono. But this is a good document of the great man's playing, and another feather in the cap for the West Hill Radio Archives label, which has been championing this sort of work for around a decade.

Michael Tumelty