CONVERSATIONS WITH ARRAU by Joseph Horowitz

CONVERSATIONS WITH ARRAU

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Horowitz interviewed the great Chilean-born pianist Claudio Arrau at length in 1980 and 1981--and the bulk of this book consists of edited transcripts from those conversations, which (by and large) will interest fellow musicians and aficionados of pianism rather than the general music readership. True, a few matters of wide appeal do come up: Arrau's opinions of Toscanini (""When it came to real interpretation, it wasn't there""), of Rachmaninoff (""not a great interpreter, because he made everything into Rachmaninoff""), Paderewski (""not a great pianist""), and others; or his reflections on the child-prodigy phenomenon, his own difficult growth, overcoming (with psychoanalysis) insecurity and the debilitating need-to-please. But some of the material is strictly for super-fans: Arrau's love of dogs, his fondness for Saturday Night Fever. And the rest is detailed piano-talk, fascinating for cognoscenti, but too technically intense to engage most concert-goers. Here, for instance, you'll find out how Arrau plays the octave glissandos in the finale of the Waldstein Sonata so smoothly--or what fingering he uses for the three final low D's in Chopin's D-Minor Prelude (and why). Plus: in-depth, sometimes bar-by-bar discussions of pieces by Brahms, Chopin, Beethoven, Lizst, and Schubert (including especially intriguing remarks on Arrau's interpretations of Schubert's tragic, death-infused Sonatas). The remainder of the text: brief interviews with Arrau students/colleagues Philip Lorenz (who assisted with the preparation of the Arrau Beethoven edition), Daniel Barenboim, Garrick Ohlsson, and Sir Colin Davis (""Every note is, as it were, a drop of rain hanging on the branch of a tree when the sun comes up""); a 1967 magazine piece by Arrau on the value of psychoanalysis (and dancing!) for would-be musicians; and Horowitz's critical survey of the Arrau discography. For Arrau devotees, serious pianists, and scholars of the Arrau repertoire, then: required reading. For other music-lovers: a dense grab-bag with some rewards for thorough browsing.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1982
Publisher: Knopf