- Audio CD (June 19 2001)
- SPARS Code: ADD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Original recording remastered
- Label: Universal Music Canada
- ASIN: B00005IB57
- In-Print Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #86,815 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Nocturnes No 1-14/Bara Original recording remastered
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|5. Nocturne in F#, Op.15 No.2|
|6. Nocturne in g, Op.15 No.3|
|7. Nocturne in c#, Op.27 No.1|
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See all 13 tracks on this disc
|1. Nocturne in f#, Op.48 No.2|
|2. Nocturne in f, Op.55 No.1|
|3. Nocturne in E flat, Op.55 No.2|
|4. Nocturne in B, Op.62 No.1|
|5. Nocturne in E, Op.62 No.2|
|6. Nocturne in e, Op.72 No.1|
|7. Nocturne in c#, Op.posth|
|8. Nocturne in c, Op.posth|
|9. Nocturne in F#, Op.60|
|10. Fant in f, Op.49|
The Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau, was at home with these mostly quiet, reflective pieces. Sir Neville Cardus of the Guardian described Arrau vividly: "Arrau is the complete pianist. He can revel in the keyboard for it's own pianistic sake, representing to us the instruments range and power, but he can also go beyond piano playing as we are led by his art to the secret chambers of the creative imagination.
Claudio Arrau's Chopin Nocturnes have had several CD incarnations, including an attractively priced two-for-one Philips duo that includes the Impromptus. While they may cost more reissued in Philips's 50 Great Recordings series, the works gain sonic heft and dimension via these new 24-bit transfers, with more warmth in the higher frequencies. Arrau considered the Nocturnes among Chopin's most searching, emotionally penetrating works.
Consequently, the pianist aims to read between the music's sentiments through ample rubatos, unorthodox accentuation, and inner drama. The results radically differ from Arthur Rubinstein's benign lyricism, much as Maria Callas's truth-or-dare approach to Bellini contrasted with Joan Sutherland's suave agility. Ornamental passages, for instance, are painstakingly spelled out and shaped in the form of rapid melodies, as in the Op. 55 No. 2 Nocturne's climactic chain of trills and the F-sharp Nocturne's middle-register accompanimental figures. In general, Arrau's grand solidity works best with the darker, more texturally elaborate selections. If the pianist's brooding, worried journey through the Barcarolle causes the music's sublime polyphony to sink upstream, the F Minor Fantasy radiates drive and heroism at every turn in one of Arrau's most inspired recordings. --Jed Distler
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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.
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Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) must have loved the form because he continued writing nocturnes all his short life, the first ones penned in his teens and early twenties, the final ones written just a couple of years before his death. They're all here in the present collection, exquisitely beautiful, done up in raptly concentrated and deeply committed performances by Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau. In addition to the Nocturnes, including the posthumous C sharp minor, Arrau adds the Barcarolle in F sharp and the popular Fantaisie in F minor.
Arrau's way with these nocturnes is strong and emotional rather than purely poetic. Not that they aren't also warm and loving, especially as taken at the moderately slow speeds Arrau adopts, but they have a firm cohesiveness about them, along with some deliberate, solidly molded phrasing. Arrau's playing may not be as lyrical as Arthur Rubinstein's (RCA), who for me still holds pride of place, but Arrau's approach is still among the better, more-decisive interpretations of these works you'll find on disc.
Philips recorded the music in 1978 analogue and remastered them in 2001 using 96 kHz, 24-bit Super Digital technology for smooth all-around sound and reasonably low noise. The resultant sound isn't as quiet or as dynamic as some of today's all-digital recordings, to be sure, but after the first few seconds of listening you hardly notice the small amount of background noise present, and the dynamic range seems as wide as necessary. Otherwise, the sonics are rich and smooth.
This Chopin set was among the first of Philips's line of remastered classics, among which I can also recommend Bernard Haitink's Mahler Ninth Symphony (289 464 714-2), Stephen Kovacevich's Grieg Piano Concerto (289 464 702-2), Kiril Kondrashin's Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade (289 464 735-2), and John Eliot Gardiner's Handel Water Music (289 464 706-2). Philips used these and other recordings to celebrate their first fifty years of music making and, thus, they called the series "Philips 50: Great Recordings." Unfortunately, Philips went out of business shortly thereafter. Such is fate, I suppose. In any case, in my comparisons of a few of the remasters to their previous CD counterparts, the remasterings bring a touch more refinement and polish to the sound, without losing much vitality in the process. And the good thing is that you can still find most of these discs new or used.
John J. Puccio