Claudio Arrau was born on 6th February 1903. Such was his prodigious talent that he gave his first public recital in Santiago at the age of five.
When he was nine he was sent, with support of the Chilean Government, to study in Berlin where he was a pupil of Martin Krause at Stern’s Conservatory for six years, he never went to another teacher.
He received many awards during his student days such that his name was already in circulation when he gave extensive tours in Germany and Scandinavia following his first recital in Berlin in 1914. He embarked on a tour of Europe after WW1. Conductors of the highest calibre – Nikisch, Mengelberg and Furtwängler amongst them – accompanied him.
After a successful return visit to his homeland in 1921 he visited London the following year where he appeared in a concert with Dame Nellie Melba and Bronislaw Huberman, the violinist who, at the age of 14, had won Brahms admiration for his performance of his concerto. In 1923 he toured the USA.
He joined the staff of Stern’s Conservatory in 1924 and taught there until 1940. In Berlin he played the complete works of Bach over 12 concerts but decided that the piano was not the instrument for these works and never played them in public again. Leaving Berlin in 1940 he returned to
Chile, where in its capital, Santiago, he founded a piano school. It was whilst on a highly successful tour of the USA during the following year that he decided to settle his family in New York.
Arrau’s reputation is built on his special affinity for the music of Brahms, Schumann, Liszt, Chopin and, above all, Beethoven whose complete sonatas he played in many major cities. His performances had all the virtuoso technique required but it was accomplished without the least ostentation; for him the music was what should remain in the audience’s ear and should not be disturbed by the flamboyance of the pianist in the audience’s eye.
On 21 April 1960, Claudio Arrau recorded Johannes Brahms’ 1st Piano Concerto in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Carlo Maria Giulini – under the auspices of Walter Legge, the legendary artistic director of EMI, who hired the pianist. The Chilean pianist is an immense Brahmsian, and here he delivers a masterly version that is at once heroic and tragically profound.
The LP benefits from a new remastering in 192htz/24 bit done in 2022 from original tapes by Art & Son Studio, Annecy.
- 1 I. Maestoso
- 2 II. Adagio
- 3 III. Rondo: Allegro Non Troppo
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