Back to something historic this week. The Boston Symphony during the 1977 Berkshire Music Festival, with Music Director Seiji Ozawa leading the BSO with the legendary Chilean Pianist Claudio Arrau in the Brahms First piano Concerto. It was recorded on August 26, 1977 and broadcast the following year.
A widely varied but nicely balanced program of two very familiar works by two bedrock composers – Bartok representing the possibilities of the 20th century and Brahms dipping into the late Romantic of the 19th.
Claudio Arrau was one of the most highly regarded pianists of the 20th century. With an astonishing grasp of repertoire spanning baroque to modern. His recorded output went from the 78 era all the way to digital, and was active until just before his death in 1991. He was a tireless performer, averaging some 120 concerts per year, and each concert featuring a program of demanding works. He was often found performing two major concertos in one concert – executing the complex demands with scrupulous nonchalance.
He was noted for the “meat and potatoes” composers, but also had an affinity for the off-beat and less often played. He was a vigorous champion of the music of Alkan and Busoni and did much to bring their work before audiences. It was said that, if Arrau chose to perform his entire repertoire in one concert setting, it would take some 76 recital evenings, not counting the 60-odd works with Orchestra that he knew by heart.
As astonishing artist, paired with one of the bright lights of the concert stage from the early 60s on. Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony dazzling the Berkshire Festival, the evening of August 26, 1977.