Claudio Arrau - Études Opus 10; Allegro de concert Opus 46 (1956), 7/10

Études are a very specific type of listening, but these compositions from Chopin performed by Claudio Arrau are some of the most gorgeous and easy to listen to that you'll hear, sometimes taking on the qualities of falling rain, such as “Waterfall” or “Étude in E♭ major”, and at others expanding into the academic madness that the medium is known for, but all exhibit a surprisingly moving quality in their subversive details. Arrau has some incredibly impressive performances that accentuate such masterful composing, and these are indeed among the most interesting and varied of the genre. Unlike the writing of most others, Chopin’s études excel in the accelerating and agile pieces, yet equally in the delicate and dreamy movements. For example, “Étude on the Bombardment of Warsaw” contains qualities of both, resulting in one of the most impressive, dynamic, and affecting pieces from the recording. These are wonderful piano studies, but ironically I have found they do not pair well with academic study, as they are far too powerful and exciting to serve as ambiance. Clear highlights include the opener in conjunction with the last two études from opus 10. They are the most varied yet reach the furthest despite their broad dynamics. If nothing else, these pieces are simply pretty yet present themselves with a formidably grand stature, an oddly endearing combination. Some of the most thrilling and exquisitely written pieces you can find, performed by a genuine master pianist at the height of his powers.