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WR 6047
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano 5 Nos. 4 and 5, "Emperor" (Arrau, Boston Symphony, Monteux, Munch) (1960, 1961)

BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano 5 Nos. 4 and 5, "Emperor" (Arrau, Boston Symphony, Monteux, Munch) (1960, 1961)

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2013


Boston Symphony Orchestra


Charles Munch


Pierre Monteux


Claudio Arrau



Tanglewood, Massachusetts, United States


Record Label
West Hill Radio Archives


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 74:53
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BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano 5 Nos. 4 and 5, "Emperor" (Arrau, Boston Symphony, Monteux, Munch) (1960, 1961)

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Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

1 I. Allegro moderato 19:56
2 II. Andante con moto 5:33
3 III. Rondo: Vivace 10:16
 Charles Munch Conductor

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73, "Emperor"

4 I. Allegro 20:35
5 II. Adagio un poco mosso 8:11
6 III. Rondo: Allegro 10:22
 Pierre Monteux Conductor
 Claudio Arrau Soloist

Concerto No. 4 (BSO 18 August 1961, cond. Munch) & Concerto No. 5 (BSO 23 July 1960, cond. Monteux), both previously unissued.
The release of concert performances of works he had recorded in the studio as well has served only to deepen appreciation of Arrau’s colossal powers of control, tone colour, musicianship and, indeed, stamina. The two performances in this disc were given with Charles Munch in 1961 (in No.4) and Pierre Monteux (in No.5) in 1960, both with the Boston Symphony. Both performances demonstrate collaborative assurance. The Fourth, taped six years after he had first recorded it in London with Alceo Galliera, is actually more realistically balanced, and one finds Munch moulding string phrasing rather more affectionately and malleably than Galliera, though with no loss of dynamism. The peaks and falls of the music are presented more viscerally here. Arrau’s rubati are also that much more ‘involved’ than in the studio. True, one must note how his chording goes astray at around 10:38 in the first movement, but the Boston horns are on splendid form and usher in a commandingly dispatched cadenza. In the slow movement one remembers Arrau’s disarmingly direct comment that ‘when I go out to play Beethoven, I find that it’s almost easier than with other composers because the meaning of his music is so clear and so definite’. That applies equally to the finale, where digital clarity and phrasal shaping are enviably assured.
Arrau’s association with Monteux went back to at least the 1923/24 season during which the Frenchman had conducted for Arrau in Chopin’s F minor Concerto in Boston during the pianist’s first American tour. We find in their performance a rather greater level of intensity than in any of Arrau’s studio realisations of the work. One finds, too, a greater variegation in chord weighting, and in the piano’s rhetorical statements, and more flexible rubati. One corollary of this greater level of energy is a brief moment in the first movement where Arrau goes awry, but this is of little matter when set against so outstanding a performance. Arrau is less seraphic in the slow movement in Boston than in the studio, his left hand accompanying figures more ‘present’, the expressive temperature set higher. He is also more buoyant in the finale, exuding a linear drive not replicated when the red light was on.
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