. . . most attractive [performances] . . . an important historical release. The two most significant discs in the collection are those devoted to Arrau . . . [Beethoven: Piano Sonatas]: a gloriously beautiful "Appassionata" and an intense and energetic "Hammerklavier" . . . In these performances, Arrau combines philosophical gravitas . . . with the fiery temperament and glistening virtuosity that characterizes recordings made in his early years . . . [Benno Moiseiwitsch was a pianist] who made Schumann sing, who played Chopin with elegance, virtuosity and feeling and who performed Beethoven with power that never eschewed feline grace or beauty of sound . . . extraordinary beauty of his sound and his mastery of colour and rhythm. Those qualities make the performances of Schumann and Beethoven in this collection . . . memorably lovely . . . [Egon Petri's performances here] show that his technique remained superlative . . . [His performance of Busoni's version of Liszt's "Mephisto Waltz"] is simply fabulous . . .
Concert Review /
International Piano (London) / 01. May 2012
. . . the main thing to celebrate is a box full of excellent 1950s recordings by great artists . . .
Record Review /
David Patrick Stearns,
Philadelphia Inquirer / 01. December 2011
The result is a blast of old-school pianism, one of the more fascinating contributions to the Liszt bicentenary celebration.
Record Review /
John von Rhein,
Chicago Tribune / 03. December 2011
. . . Petri's muscular, dramatic readings of material like Bach's "Toccata & Fugue in D minor" contrast with Moiseiwitsch's more pictorial, illustrative approach to Schumann's "Carnaval" and "Kinderszenen" cycles, while Alicia De Larrocha's focus on her native Spanish repertoire of Granados and Turina helped establish it as a serious concern. Most impressive of all, Claudio Arrau's florid, involving delivery of Beethoven's "Appassionata" and "Moonlight" sonatas is virtually definitive.
Record Review /
Independent (London) / 28. December 2011
. . . a collection of ten solo piano CDs by five of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century . . . the chances are that piano specialists might well be attracted by such a collection as this, almost exclusively taken from rare tapes from the American Decca and Westminster catalogues, with music lovers' interest being heightened the more since the recordings by Claudio Arrau are here issued for the first time in any format . . . perfectly acceptable piano tone was expected half a century and more ago -- and in every case here this was achieved. The result is that we can concentrate upon the performances, uninterrupted by shortcomings in terms of sound, and each one is well worth our attention . . . The greatest interest surely resides in the two discs of Arrau playing five Beethoven sonatas and the Chopin "Fantaisie". Arrau's Beethoven is magnificent; the "Hammerklavier" recorded surely at just the right time in his career in terms of command, intellectual grip and understanding, musical insight and technical mastery -- this is a great performance. The four other Beethoven sonatas, recorded about the same time, are equally impressive interpretations: in none of them does the pianist intrude between composer and listener -- this is Beethoven, without any interpretative tricks at all . . . [Chopin's "Fantaisie" is] equally given with strong intellectual grip -- especially in the subtle manner of the work's evolving tonalities . . . [Alicia de Larrocha]: we should be grateful for her legacy, as exemplified on these discs, of extensive recordings of music by three Spanish masters -- Turina, Granados and Mompou. The Turina works open with a well-nigh perfect account of the quite well-known "Danzas fantasticas" [and] the C major Partita are particularly commandingly played . . . the "Recuerdos de la Antigua Espana" develop the composer's ideas more fully, to produce a suite of four pieces which certainly deserves to be better-known -- and perhaps will become so in the light of this excellent reissue. The Granados pieces are also important; Larrocha plays six of the "Goyescas" quite brilliantly . . . Federico Mompou's music . . . also inhabits a fascinating world of its own -- quite beautifully enunciated here . . . [Raymond] Lewenthal plays the epigrammatic 24 Preludes, Op. 11 flawlessly -- especially the D flat (No. 15) and A minor, and his insight into this still-misjudged figure is virtually exemplary. It is difficult to name a rival recording of Op. 11 by any pianist which is superior overall to this; and much the same may be said of Lewenthal's recording of the poetic "Vers la flamme", Op. 72 . . . It is also a pleasure to encounter here the composer's B minor Fantasia, Op. 28 wonderfully played . . . [Lewenthal's] discography -- although distinguished indeed -- barely does the full range of his sympathies justice: it is right that he should be fully represented here . . . [Benno Moiseiwitsch]: phrase after phrase in the three big Schumann pieces here, plus the composer's "Arabeske", reveals that a master musician is at work . . . [Moiseiwitsch's Beethoven] has a similar "knowing depth" which is difficult to put into words but which the attentive listener will readily identify. Such moments as the perfect tempo for the "Moonlight" Allegretto movement are of infinite artistry, and the two short Schumann pieces which close the second CD show this very great artist at his simplest and best . . . [Egon Petri plays Busoni]: the complete "Fantasia contrappuntistica", in my opinion, receives a well-nigh definitive performance . . . the other shorter pieces . . . are each delivered with consummate pianistic mastery such as would surely have earned both Liszt's and Busoni's wholehearted approval . . . [an] invaluable collection . . . It is an important addition to the pianistic discography.
Record Review /
Classical Recordings Quarterly (London) / 01. October 2012
Piano Sonata No.26 in E flat, Op.81a -"Les adieux" - 3. Das Wiedersehen (Vivacissimamente)