David's Review Corner
, November 2007
What a horrid jumble at the rushed outset of the Burleske, some timpani tuning would have not gone amiss. The work does not seem Arrau’s scene at all, and though the performance soon settles down as the great Chilean pianist produces some scintillating runs, he seems more happy when he can introduce an unhurried lyrical quality. Uncompetitive in the light of the recent recordings of the work, a fact added to by the poor quality of the orchestral sound that even by 1946 standards is only just tolerable. Musically we are on much more rewarding ground in the Schumann concerto, the recording made in just one session with part of the performance coming from one ‘take’. It is both a joyous and warmly lyrical reading, the end of the finale sounding so vivacious. Thankfully the sound from this transferred 1944 recording is more than we could have hoped for, the Detroit orchestra adding lively support. We move to London in 1939 for Carnival and a refined sound quality, the problem here being that Arrau keeps on getting a rush of blood to the head, the quicker sections very fast and exciting but error prone. As a whole this is a delightful performance that one would describe as youthful, though Arrau was 36 at the time, and it gives him ample chance to display a magical delicacy. So its a mixed bag, but that will not deter Arrau fans, the Naxos transfer people having done the best they can with available material.