Beware of old radio recordings, transmitted to new discs by eager gramophone companies, convinced they will sell solely by the name of a prominent artist! They are not always up to the standard you have the right to expect from them. Martha Argerich, however, never makes you disappointed! Here are lovely Chopin recordings from the Berlin and Köln radios in the fifties and sixties, from a technical as well as an artistic point of view beautifully, not to say excitingly rendered. The Ballade no 1 in G minor originates from 1959 and is young Martha at her best och in her most riveting virtuoso manner, like a waterfall of tones in dazzling sunlight. The Etude in C sharp minor, op 10, no 4, is more, to go on with poetical metaphors, like a string of dew-drops, illuminated by a grass fire on the Argentinean Pampas. Of the two nocturnes, played here, the one in F major, op. 15, no 1 appears to have the strongest appeal in its magnificent outburst towards the end, an elemental force of joy and enthusiasm. According to the sleeve, The Ballade as well as the Etude are here recorded for the first time, adding essential contributions to the discography of Martha Argerich's. So are some of the mazurkas presented, and I think they are the most attractive numbers of the disc. They are played with an unusual rythmic verve, emphasizing their character of lively dances more than is normal in modern performances. They are simply stirring and captivating. Finally, the Sonata no 3 gives us an overwhelming version of this most majestic of Chopin's piano sonatas, with a not too celestial slow movement, and a Finale of youthful force and zest. I wouldn't be surprised if more than one listener will chose this record as the Disc of the Chopin Anniversary Year 2010!
A truly brilliant pianist caught at the pinnacle of her powers. Although the dynamic range of the recording is not perfect this is still a must have for Chopin lovers. Whilst many of the pieces are no strangers to her repertoire I have not heard her play all of these mazurkas previously and the second Nocturne Op 55 No 2 (the one in E Flat major/minor(?)) is truly beautiful if not quite as fluid as the famous one by Ignaz Friedman.
Five BRILLIANT Stars! True Argerich Chopin treasures from the Deutsche Grammophon vault celebrating The Frédéric Chopin Year! To hear Martha Argerich play is to hear someone walking among the giants. The 3 time Grammy-winning Argentinean classical piano virtuoso is considered one of our greatest living pianists: a true child prodigy mentored by some of the greats, who lives up to her reputation of genius by thinking each piece through, applying phenomenal technique, and then playing like it's her last performance of it. And this CD from DG catches her in 1959 (age 18) and 1967 (age 26), not only during her solo music phase but within 2 years of her double victory at age 16 of the Geneva and the Ferruccio Busoni International Competitions "within weeks of each other" in one instance, and within 2 years of winning the 7th International Frédérick Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, with special prizes given her for mazurkas and waltzes, in the other instance. The youthful Ms Argerich burns with a musical passion and intensity in these performances that makes Chopin's music leap off the pages.
I have no 'best of the best' for this recording because it's all exceptional. Whether all of this is what Chopin wanted is debatable but he probably would have loved every note of it and she is very convincing. The performance of Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Opus 23 at age 18 is an incredible pianistic feat, laying it side by side with other top pianists, demonstrating 'the Argerich flair' that makes this artist so special: marvelous technique, heightened drama, and impeccable timing, all the more remarkable given her young age. This is followed 8 years later by a lightning, nuanced, performance of a teenaged Chopin's challenging Étude Opus 10, No. 4, in C sharp minor, B74 with Argerich exploding arpeggios in showers of notes as the piece ebbs and flows in ambidextrous intensity from hand to hand: clocking in at a cleanly-articulated, breathless 1:56. The Mazurka No. 36 in A minor, Opus 59, No 1; the Mazurka No. 38 in F sharp minor Opus 59 No.3; as well as the other Mazurkas and Nocturnes are both masterful and deeply emotional playing. But the Piano Sonata No.3 in B minor, Op.58, recorded live at the Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin, is the 'tour de force' of this CD, especially the Allegro maestoso, the fascinating Largo, and the stormy Finale with that last, long sizzling wall-to-wall arpeggio, all clearly demonstrating the fact that Argerich's mighty reach never exceeds her firm grasp. Recorded in great sound in four venues. Put this CD in a safe place. My Highest Recommendation. Five AMAZING Stars! (This review is based on an Amazon.com MP3 download; 64:16.)
Words are not enough to tell you of the beauty, magic and power of these particular pieces. Chopin was a genius for sure....but so is his musical interpreter, Martha Argerich. Don't take my word for it about these 'lost' recordings. I was so spell-bound, I couldn't do anything else until I got to the end of the CD.....despite the domestic scene of disruption unfolding all around me! If you listen to these recordings, you will be amazed, I assure you!