Argerich Tchaikovsky and Schumann

Review by: Victor Carr Jr

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 7

This release presents Martha Argerich’s pianism caught live, in all its dazzling, frenzied glory. As on her live Tchaikovsky concerto performance with Kiril Kondrashin and the Bavarian Radio Symphony on Philips, Argerich is fully in the moment, intuitively molding each phrase, and pacing every transition according to her unerring musicianship and uninhibited emotional involvement. Argerich plays the famous accompanying chords of the introduction with a balanced combination of bravura and nobility that blasts away the veneer of banality that had formed over the work in the last century. Once again, she is a firebrand in the finale, though thankfully, she’s virtually free from finger slips this time around. Schumann’s concerto receives an unusually alert and urgent reading, with Argerich displaying passion married to her refined poetic sensitivity. Her rubato in the first movement has a wonderfully natural ebb and flow, epitomizing the term “romantic”. These qualities carry on through the second movement to the surprisingly joyous sounding finale, where Argerich is practically dancing at her keyboard. Kazimierz Kord is seemingly at one with her synaptic responses as he leads the National Philharmonic Orchestra Warsaw in perfectly matched accompaniments. As a bonus (and anyone who’s been to an Argerich concert considers any and all encores a bonus), we are treated to a selection of Bach, Chopin, Scarlatti, and Ginastera, all performed with aplomb, and in the last case, a bittersweet melancholy suffused with a barely contained dark fire. The 1979 and 1980 live recordings range from harsh and piano-heavy in the Tchaikovsky, to more or less natural-sounding in the Schumann and solo works.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Tchaikovsky: Argerich/Abbado/DG, Schumann: This one

ROBERT SCHUMANN - Piano Concerto in A minor
J. S. BACH - Bourrée from English Suite No. 2
FREDERIC CHOPIN - Mazurka in F minor
DOMENICO SCARLATTI - Sonata in D minor

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