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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 8 November 2008
I can't imagine what the recording engineer thought when he heard Martha Argerich begin to play, although the CD notes give some description of his awe. Her playing is so intenstly imaginative, bold and absorbing. When she made this recording she was a young woman, and she must have known that her skills were rather unique. It is impossible to describe this disc adequately, you simply have to hear it. No other performer relishes the small Mazurkas like Argerich does here (what a pity there are only three!) Apparently she won a special award at the Chopin Piano Competition for her mazurka playing, and she fully deserved it. I have Rubinstein's recording of these works (also made in the mid '60s), and as good as it is, this stands head and shoulders above it.

The Nocturne, presumably also a part of Argerich's competition program, is like none other. The soft, gently melody at the opening actually gains something when played this quickly, and the stormy interlude is over before you know it has begun thanks to her extremely quick rendition. In the hands of any other performer this type of playing would probably massacre the Nocturne, but here it sounds so intense, so melancholy as to be beautiful. The Sonata is also excellent (although the somewhat boomy piano sound is a little hard to listen to at times here). The Polonaise is tossed off with aplomb, virtuosic sparks flying, and making a marvellous conclusion to a breathtaking release.
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on 21 December 2015
The history behind this recording alone is a reason enough for piano music fans to get it. It is really great that such a gem was not kept locked in a drawer for good!
For me, Fryderyk Chopin is the greatest piano music composer there is. My music teacher used to tell me that his music, perhaps more than any other's, allows a performer to express himself/herself thoroughly. Notably, tempo changes are a characteristic feature of the Polish composer's music and make it possible for every player to feel a composition in his or her very own way.
That's exactly where Martha Argerich shows her class. Yes, she is passionate and vigorous, it is her primary feature, but also her sustained and soft playing is stunningly emotional. The mazurkas included here, especially No.s 37 and 38, are a good example. Argerich's victory at 1965 Warsaw Chopin competition is also a testimony to this. The Poles have always claimed they know "their" Chopin best and they feel it when someone plays his works well.
The best performance on the CD is the final movement of Sonata No.3, the Finale, teeming with glorious virtuosity. As Suvi Raj Grubb writes in what later happened to be the liner notes, it was recorded in one flawless take. This disc deserves 5 stars. Martha Argerich was in top form in June 1965 and the sound, although not perfect, is good. Here, the title 'legendary recording' is no exaggeration.
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on 1 January 2010
In the absence of a full DVD or CD of Martha's winning programme in the 1965 Chopin piano competition, this is about as close as you can get to March 1965 (check out her performance of the op.53 polonaise on youtube!)
The performances are full of fire and passion, amazingly powerful for such a frail-looking young woman with (at that time) small hands, but poetry and introspection are also present when required.
The only slight downside is the recording, which compared to the DG take of a virtually identical programme a couple of years later, is a bit boomy and not 100% "clean" - one would have expected a little more from EMI, especially at Abbey Road.
That apart, one hell of a CD!
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This disc, recorded in 1965, has previously been unreleased because of the exclusivity terms of Argerich's contract with DGG which followed on closely from these recording sessions. Argerich went on to record a disc for DGG which was very similar in content to this recording for EMI but it is arguable that this earlier disc captured the finer recital especially when it is now possible to compare the two side by side.

The piano sound on this EMI disc is very realistic and full toned. It is cut at a high level which makes the Abbey Road studio sound rather 'bigger' than normal giving the illusion of a large empty hall rather than the recording studio. The piano timbre has no trace of woodenness, only verging on slightly clangorous timbre at moments of greatest power. These issues can easily be tamed by slightly reducing the playback level. Whatever, the playing is of such splendour and gripping intensity that any quibbles over recorded sound perfection are completely negated by the musical results and their impact.

A generalisation can be made when comparing the DGG alternative with this slightly earlier set. It is often very difficult for artists to re-capture the spontaneity of first attempts even if later attempts may achieve greater technical perfection. Thus Argerich's EMI recital recorded on this disc has a freshness and spontaneity of expression that is not quite matched by the, admittedly fine, DGG alternative.

There is just a touch of hard driving about the sonata, scherzo and polonaise in the later DGG disc which is not present in this EMI predecessor. This current disc offers a typically crisp range of tempi, but it achieves that velocity, power and excitement without any trace of being over-driven. Apparently, the final movement of the sonata was recorded in one full take and that may explain the enhanced suggestion of spontaneity present throughout this disc. The rest of the program, the three mazurkas and the nocturne, are examples of jewel-like and delicate miniatures.

This then, is a very special recording which captures Argerich in full youthful and unspoiled enthusiastic form. There is an unusual degree of spontaneity present throughout and I would suggest that this disc would make a most attractive addition to any collector's record library even if the later DGG disc is already on collectors' shelves.


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on 5 August 2011
Although not a connoisseur but, neverthless, appreciative of fine classical music, I believe this performance by Martha Argerich to be, without doubt, the most exceptional I have heard and is comparable with any top virtuoso. It is no wonder that this highly talented lady has achieved so much.
Considering that this recording was originally made over 45 years ago, I personally cannot fault the sound quality and, to me, it is just as if I were listening to a live broadcast by this magnificent pianist. Close your eyes, and it is easy to visualise a beautiful young lady in her mid-twenties, with raven-coloured hair, seated at the piano in a dress with white spots (as depicted on the sleeve) flawlessly producing this wonderful sound.
The musical attributes of this lady are beyond description and I imagine that all of her performances were, and still are, of such excellent quality.
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on 3 July 2016
I of course love Martha and have a lot of cds with her performances, but I wanted to have her first recording on vinyl. This is an amazing performance from 1965, the year when the young Argentinian piano player won the Chopin Prize and amazed the musical world with her interpretation of the Piano Sonata #3 and some mazurkas. A so nostalgic, so beautiful and so powerful recording!

Three stars because though the vinyl came sealed, I was surprised by the dirty accumulated in the grooves. After playing the A side of the LP on the stylus there was an impressive quantity of muck. I had to stop and to clean the garbage for my stylus is an expensive micro one. There are also unpleasant crackling and popping due to electrization. Some manufacturers less famous than Warner produce clean vinyls, so it is an enigma for me how this one could be of a so bad quality.
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on 9 April 2016
How have I let so many years go by before buying this wonderful recording? Have seen her so often - especially early in her career. This is such a joy. Effervescent. Technically superb. Just amazing.
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on 2 December 2013
Sound quality may be a little flat but this is a stunning recording of the one of the greatest pianists of our time at the start of her career. It is unmissable.
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on 2 June 2013
The previous reviews aroused my curiousity, so I decided to check this out, even though I tend to go for complete editions rather than recitals. Certainly the right decision; although the recording is almost as old as I am, it sounds absolutely fine to my ears, but more to the point, Martha's performance shows she was already at the top of her game. Quite amazing considering this was her first recording. Well worth buying even if you already have these Chopin pieces.
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on 22 February 2014
No I really understand why this is a lendary interpretation! Martha Argerich best interpretation ever and chopin pieces best interpretation ever! I dont have more words to express my feelings when i heard this cd
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