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Arrau & Cherkassky/Solti
BBC Legends BBCL 4160 (Cherkassky) & 4162 (Arrau)

For music lovers in their twilight years, it is comforting and rewarding to hear again favourites who have passed on. BBC Legends bring back well remembered and loved great musicians in live concerts many will have attended.

Claudio Arrau was a profound musician, an 'inward' pianist whose spirituality is well conveyed in these performances from 1960 and 1969 (Schonberg). He is quoted as declaring "When I play I am in ecstacy, a creative ecstasy which I wouldn't miss for anything". You will feel this in his reverntial approach to the first of the Op 27 sonatas, and especially in the Langsam getragen movement which crowns Schumann's Fantasy. A surprising bonus is a rare performance on record of the Schonberg pieces Op 11; a lovely recital in fresh sound.

Shura Cherkassky was no introvert, and a sense of audience presence is welcome in the selection of his playing in concert and recital. His appearances always had zestful spontaneity, sometimes a little wilfulness, but his virtuosic command of the keyboard was retained by rigorous practising, exactly four hours a session, so slowly that "it sounds as if I can't play the piano".

You should never contemplate buying a studio recording of Tchaikowsky No 1; it relies upon immediacy and impulse, well served by the meeting and mutual adjustments of Solti and Cherkassky in 1958. This concert favourite had been born in 1909 and was before the public until advanced old age. The recital items here show him in great form at his favourite Wigmore Hall (which he continued visiting long after he needn't have) in 1982. Excellent sound; both these CDs are real treats.

© Peter Grahame Woolf