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Classical

Beethoven, Sonatas 31, 32 and 23 “Appassionata” performed by pianist Claudio Arrau (ICO Classics). One of the greatest advantages enjoyed by those of us living in Buffalo is the opportunity to hear great classical musicians in the perfect acoustics of Kleinhans Music Hall. What we know – routinely – that listeners to classical records don’t necessarily know is who, among the greatest musicians, had an undeniable sonic magnificence all to themselves, unaided by production and electronics. To hear Claudio Arrau play a Beethoven Concerto in Kleinhans with the Buffalo Philharmonic (Krips was the conductor back then) was to hear a Beethoven performance of near-astonishing sonic brilliance, all caused by a man and his fingers, nothing more. Here is a performance from a Swedish Radio studio in 1960 that is a magnificent Arrau performance of the two final Beethoven piano Sonatas as well as the Appassionata. The musician is extraordinary. Tragically lacking, though, in the recording quality of the time is any sense of the incredible grandeur of Arrau’s sound at the keyboard. Great Beethoven performance, nevertheless, however hobbled by the sonics of its era. It’s the first CD release of these performances. 4 stars (Jeff Simon)