I know a number of recordings of both works but none that match these: That's not to say there aren't many wonderful ones.
Collectors often like to buy the Prokofiev as part of the complete set. The Ashkenazy recordings with Previn are a great favourite but I have to say Martha Argerich is in a different class with Abaddo being the most sympathetic Prokofiev conductor. The opening movement does have great momentum and almost physical rush between both soloist and orchestra and this is replicated too in the finale. The central movement theme and variations are well defined. Martha Argerich is famous for her interpretation of this concerto so even if you have another recording elsewhere this is well worth having.
The Ravel concerto is given a fine performance too with a perfect balance between piano and orchestra. Overall it is crisp, elegant but never over indulgent in the beautiful slow movement. I've not heard a better version.
For a 1960s recording this stands up very well indeed. The sound is starting to show its age a little but certainly not enough to deduct a star when you consider that these two works have seldom received better performances. You might wish for a more generous filling of the disc but with such great performances and at a bargain price this comes highly recommended.
on 21 April 2013
I bought this CD for the Ravel Piano Concerto in G which I love to listen to. I had another version on tape for quite a few years but couldn't get it on CD. In a way I'm glad I didn't find it as this is a beautiful recording by the legendary Martha Argerich with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. I had wondered what her playing was like and was not disappointed, despite the fact it was made in 1967. The power and emotion in her playing, especially in the first two movements is amazing, with Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic providing a sensitive backing.
Also on the CD is Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No.3, which was also recorded in 1967 by DG. Again, Martha Argerich's playing is stunning, and she is once more accompanied by Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic. The intensity between soloist and orchestra, building up to the climax of the final movement, is a marvel to listen to.
This remastered disc brings together three admired recordings from 1967, the concertos, and 1975, Gaspard. Abbado matches Argerich's energy and youthful enthusiasm while bringing his customary care for detail and clarity to bear. The remastering has been done using DGG's own processes and on this occasion has been very successful.
The Prokofiev concerto has been a favourite with collectors and its combination of sharp humour and lyrical simplicity, as in the central movement, suits Argerich's own independent character. Her incisive finger-work is complemented by her willingness to use rubato for expressive means and this improvisatory element makes the performance a compellingly individual statement.
Much the same can be said of her Ravel concerto and comparing this recording with her fairly recent 'live' performance in Stockholm, and now on DVD/Blu-ray, one is more aware of the similarities than the differences. The later performance is more flexible in terms of a jazz-inspired improvisatory feel, but that is not to suggest that this earlier recording is in any way lacking in that sort of freedom. It is arguable that the slightly tighter approach might be more suitable for repeat hearing on a CD.
The Gaspard performance is a tour de force in all respects although Argerich has since referred to it on a recent documentary film as being a recording that makes her sound like a pregnant mum. She was pregnant at the time and it seems that the recording session is not a particularly scintillating memory fro her. For the rest of the world it has always been an admired achievement musically and still sounds well.
This disc, by compiling this collection of three fine recordings, offers something of a musical bargain. As such I would suggest that it deserves to be on collectors' shelves and would also be a fine choice for those just looking for a single recording of these works or any combination of them.
The first movement of the Prokofiev is simply one of the most exciting, visceral, hedonistic rushes of electricity that every lover of music can crave for. There is a rush, a cascade, a torrent of notes that flows upwards through the keyboard. Argerich makes it sound like it will never stop - that the keyboard just doesn't end. Astonishing.
This CD contains three great works - Ravel Piano Concerto in G, Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 3, and Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit. (Treasurer of the Night)with the solo piano played by the mighty, magnificent Martha Argerich in 1967 and 1975. The Ravel Piano Concerto has a lively opening from the Berlin Philharmonic ably led by Claudio Abbado. The jazz influence is subtly conveyed and the piano makes a suitable contribution. Then there is that gorgeous second movement with its conversations between the piano, the orchestra and sublime soloists. And finally that last movement like a bullet from a gun.
The CD starts with the Prokofiev 3rd Piano Concerto. There is a visceral energy to the performance as all the performers play to the perfection of their competence. All the technical challenges are mastered. Some of the tempos are breathtaking. The music hurtles to its conclusion.
The CD finishes with one of the world's most difficult piano solos - Gaspard de la Nuit. There are 3 movements (lasting in total just short of 23 minutes)based on poems by Aloysius Bertrand - Ondine, Le Gibet and Scarbo. There is rippling, cascading, watery energy portraying the Water Sprite. On the Gibbet the corpse is accompanied by the tolling of a bell. Throughout the entire piece this is a B-flat octave ostinato, that must remain distinctive and constant in tone as the notes cross over and dynamics change. Martha Argerich accomplishes this. Then Scarbo with its fiendish difficulty portraying a goblin from the depths of nightmare. Admiration must be one response to this fantastic CD.