During a career which spanned more than eighty years, Claudio Arrau performed this masterpiece with virtually all of the world's great orchestras. This program begins with a moving documentary which traces the life of this... more » extraordinary artist from his birth in the village of Chillan, Chile in 1903. It follows him on his triumphant homecoming in 1984, after a seventeen year absence and includes his commentary on his own life and music. The program concludes with Claudio Arrau's historic performance of Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto in Santiago's Metropolitan Cathedral.« less
"While it is a pleasure to have another Arrau performance of Beethoven's 5th piano concerto, the presentation is disappointing. First of all there are about 40 minutes introduction, with a montage of interviews, rehearsals and so on, with a devastating commentary. Afterwards you get a hum-drum performance with a rather mediocre orchestra, tiny sound and not much of a concept. But what is really annoying about this disc? Well, there's a gap between sound and image, a gap of less than a second, to be sure, but enough for a distraction from the presentation. Finally I chose to switch off my tv and preferred to listen only."
Sublimity on Disc
Lawrence Russ | United States | 05/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What you have on this disc is a transcendant musician playing a transcendant piece of music by a transcendant composer. Arrau's depth and superb technique were peculiarly suited to Beethoven's work, and Arrau had no equal in the second half of the 20th century when it came to playing Beethoven's greatest works for piano (please, don't tell me about Brendel's brilliant but cold ruminations -- this music requires spiritual as well as intellectual depth). In this recorded performance, Arrau, who never played without intense concentration and commitment, transmits the added inspiration of playing before his fellow countrymen for the first time after a decades-long absence from his native Chile."
A facinating DVD. Highly recommended.
Anton Karidian | Toronto | 04/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just saw this DVD recently and my copy was fine. I didn't notice the sound being out of synch with the picture. Maybe the early batches were faulty. I find the picture and sound quality very acceptable. In addition to the performance a full length documentary is generously included (i.e. snippets of him giving a master class to young students) on Arrau's career and his return to Chile for the performance his trademark piece. The videography is dyamic. There are various shots and angles of the Arrau as well as the orchestra and conductor.
Not a slick Deutsche Grammophon style production, but certainly more honest and interesting."
Out of Synch!
SuperKike | Tucson | 04/01/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"For pianists hoping to watch Arrau's hands in this concerto, be warned, because the sound is out of synch with the video by about a second, rendering this DVD useless in my opinion."
Superb! The "Emperor" indeed!
Anthony J. Lomenzo | Fort Ann, New York | 05/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A superb Peter Rosen produced [with ample kudos to host and writer, Martin Bookspan] DVD which follows the Maestro to his homecoming to Chile in 1984. Excellent and informative [operative word] interviews and one gets a picture of Claudio Arrau from his birth in Chile to his study in Germany with Martin Krause [a student of Liszt] with a running narrative on Arrau's life and subsequent musical achievements. His recordings are legendary not to mention the variety of composers and their greatest works.
You're looking at a man whose professional career spanned almost 80 years and who was still actively performing up until the time of his death in 1991 at age 88. He was also an intellectual in every sense of the word and brought that 'special something' [unique to each listener] to his music and indeed musical dedication with, I'll add at once, ample due, if you will, to the well varied composers that he interpreted.
This DVD leads up to his life-long signature piece, Beethoven's majestic 5th piano concerto and hence the "Emperor" play on words because other than the piece and its usual "nickname", Claudio also had the 'demeanor' of what one would expect of an Emperor albeit of the variety that the people tend to hold in awe and highly respect versus covertly or overtly fear.
And to a classical piano competition amigo I ran into who took issue with me when I said that Claude Frank perhaps secretly yearned to yell out to Andrew Russo when juror Claude witnessed Russo's ad hoc piano string plucking [on a George Crumb piece] at the 11th  Van Cliburn, "Yo, Andy! More cowbell!", well, hey, we 'are' in total agreement that the female violinist to the hard left of the piano as you watch the DVD in the Arrau 'Emperor' piece , the one where Claudio's life-long friend Vicor Tevah is conducting, in fact could hold a second gig as a Vogue [et al] cover model! When one sees the DVD, it's clear that the camera guy thought the same thing from the amount of times the camera focused on her. And those violin fingers to be sure! Very nice!
I have most everything where Claudio Arrau appears on film and he rarely ceases to give a great performance and an interpretation that would, in my opinion, duly bring on heart-rendered bravos from the composers themselves.
As for talk of 'prime' and/or 'past prime', well, I don't think great interpretation is so much a matter of 'age' as it is dedication and experience as opposed to those who may boast of let us say 20 years experience but alas, may in fact, interpretation and skills wise, have but 1 year's experience 20 times! Arrau's experience was of the cumulative variety. And it well showed in his playing! Ditto Artur Rubinstein whose DVD presentations I would also highly recommend forthwith.