A couple of years ago i happened to find in an old out-of-the-way store in my home country Ecuador, almost hidden in a back shelf Arrau's complete set of Chopin recorded for phillips. This 6 cd set included a large number of works of which probably the most amazing were the waltzes and the nocturnes. As for the waltzes, Arrau's rendition was a true revelation as he showed deep angst and sadness in them - a feature rarely stressed in these works.
And then were the Nocturnes. In his interpretation, and useing that so unique grave tone of his, Arrau delivers not only all the music but also darker, almost sinister visions. Psychology, always one of Arrau's favorite topics is pushed to the most and in the most revealing way - you can sense through these performances that beyond all the light of the filigree figurations and melodies lies the extremely troubled soul of Chopin as portrayed by Arrau. Trills, figurations so abundant in these works are played as part of the melodies and not just as ornaments - Arrau in interviews sopke many times of the various ways of playing and interpreting trills as taught to him by his teacher Martin Krause (home my memory serves me right) and here is the perfect example of what he meant.
I have heard other fine renditions of the nocturnes as played by Rubinstein, Barenboim, Biret - but as worthy as they are, doubtfully will they ever be appreciated as the unique, unapologetic, bold, understanding performances Arrau delivered here. This is not necesarilly Chopin to be enjoyed - rather to be disturbed by. Most likely the most truthfull and faithfull performances ever to be recorded of this music, and also by Arrau.