Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas, Arrau

Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau (1903-1991) is widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century, and he recorded this cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas in the 1960s. These analogue recordings are warm and rich, with great spatial depth, and Arrau delicately balanced the required technical muscularity with an intense, deeply tender emotionality. This is particularly apparent in the later works, from the ‘Hammerklavier’ (No 29), through to Beethoven’s devastating final sonata from 1822, just five years before his death. This set by Arrau has been out of print for years, so Decca’s reissue, which includes the Diabelli Variations, is a welcome one. If you don’t have a complete set of Beethoven’s extraordinary piano sonatas (even if you do - I have three !) then this exemplary collection is for you.

Lisa MacKinney is from Readings Carlton.