Martha Argerich, Argerich Plays Chopin

Steve Holtje

By Steve Holtje

on 11.16.12 in Reviews

Martha Argerich - Chopin

Martha Argerich
Spontaneously inflected playing, done with taste

Containing a half hour of 1967 studio recordings made for broadcasts, a ’67 live Third Sonata and the Ballade No. 1 from 1959 (she was 17 years old but had already won the Geneva and Busoni competitions), this collection boasts four pieces of which we have no other Argerich recordings (which I’ll call “unique”), and another four heard via concert bootlegs (“only studio”), including the Nocturne, Op. 55 No. 2. The Ballade (unique) has slight finger slips, of little concern given its scintillating bravura. Next comes a nearly impeccable and highly dramatic rendition of the Op. 10 Etude, No. 4 (only studio). There are eight Mazurkas, with only Op. 59′s three familiar from studio recordings and Op. 33 No. 2 and two Op. 41 Mazurkas “unique”; her chiaroscuro C-sharp minor is especially characterful. In the Sonata she blurs the Scherzo’s outer sections a tad, but the most frequently used phrase in Argerich reviews might be “force of nature,” and this live performance is a prime example why. As spontaneously inflected as her playing is, it’s done with taste, a sort of organically applied Romanticism we hardly hear anymore. Her erotically languorous Largo nearly suspends the passage of time with some deliciously juicy rubato, making this version preferable to her two studio recordings.