This is an historical issue of some considerable importance coupling, as it does, two key pieces from the repertoire of one of the finest pianists of our time at an early stage in her career. The sleeve comments that this pair of recordings made by the BBC in 1977 have been `lovingly restored, using the finest state-of-the-art technology.' I personally had doubts about the success of this especially as I own fine CDs of the same pieces recorded at a later date by Argerich and which are almost considered benchmark statements.
Well I can immediately report that the quality of the restoration has not been exaggerated. The colour imaging is remarkable, especially for its age, and very little allowance need be made here. The sound is presented in good genuine stereo. The camera work is rather less invasive than in some more recent issues and the detailed work gives a clear account of the performance. These comments must be read bearing in mind that this is not of Blu-ray level of course. Nevertheless it is a considerably superior effort to many later non-HD recordings.
As regards the actual performances, what we get to share here is absolutely what was to turn Argerich into something of a musical icon in later years. All the characteristics of her later playing are clearly here already and that makes this a fascinating record. I found myself wondering if Charles Groves and Andre Previn, the two conductors, had any inkling at that stage that here was a young pianist who was going to turn into something even more special.
What is quite clear is how closely the two conductors follow her every phrase with rapt attention. Their co-ordination of the orchestral requirements with those of Argerich as the performances unfold are object lessons in fine conducting. Other examples of that calibre can be seen in the way Karajan accompanies the young Kissin or Kathleen Battle in the famous New Year's Day concert of 1987.
In summary therefore, and in my opinion, any purchaser interested in the outset of the career of Argerich or anyone interested in the art of fine conducting should find this issue to be of riveting interest. The technical aspects of the recording are remarkably good and should not mar the enjoyment of the music making portrayed. Clearly it would be unreasonable to compare this on exactly the same technical level of a Blu-ray recording so this rating is based on different historical and musical criteria as explained above.
It seems to me therefore that this is a totally successful restoration of an invaluable historical achievement and well-worth the full 5 stars on that basis.