All-Mozart recital from the Tanglewood Festival. Given in the Concert Hall, July 21, 1964. CD 1 (66:15): Piano Sonata No. 5 in G Major, K.283, Piano Sonata No. 18 in A Minor, K.310, Fantasie No. 4 in C Minor, K.475, Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Minor, K.457. CD 2 (33:49): Piano Sonata No. 17 in B Flat Major, K.570, Piano Sonata No. 18 in D Major, K.576. Baldwin piano. Restoration engineer: Gene Gaudette. Premiere CD release! Issued with the kind permission of the Arrau Estate. AAD stereo Total Time:100 min. UPC # 0-17685-12742-7.
BUZZ: There was a time—specifically, the middle years of the 20th century—when the music in this recital used commonly to be played in a somewhat prettified, Dresden-china fashion. Nothing could be more different than Claudio Arrau’s approach to Mozart even in the relatively early stages of his career (and he was sixty-one when these live performances were given). Certainly, some other pianists in those days gave full value to the dramatic power of the minor-key sonatas, K. 310 and K. 457, though very few approached the sheer volcanic force he brought to those bass octaves in the A-minor’s finale. But you encounter Arrau’s no-holds-barred style even in seemingly less serious works: the finale of K. 283, for example, already sounds, under his hands, more unpredictably Beethovenish than in the interpretations of some of his contemporaries; and in the relatively relaxed finale of K. 570, he punches out the insistent staccato repeated notes of the contrasting central episode with positively demonic relish. This, then, is in an important sense “bigger” Mozart playing than was the norm 50 years ago. At the same time, the clarity of Arrau’s texture and the often airy lightness of his pedaling keeps his view of the music from transgressing 18th-century stylistic norms. And while his reputation is based to a degree on his notably classical restraint, you will find in these performances any number of moments when the wit of his timing creates a delightfully mischievous effect.