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Prokofiev, Ravel: Piano Concertos, etc / Martha Argerich
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Product Description

This is the original Prokofiev/Ravel concerto coupling as it appeared on LP; the Prokofiev has also been coupled with the Tchaikovsky First Concerto. I prefer this edition since superb performances of the Ravel are less common. The young (1967) Martha Argerich plays the Prokofiev for maximum brilliance but leavens the Ravel with the composer's ironic lyricism. It's very effective. The bonus is one of the greatest performances of the Ravel piano suite ever recorded, but it leaves me wondering what will happen to the remainder of the original LP. All those solo Ravel pieces should be in the catalog; as Argerich plays them, they offer a primer on what keyboard color is all about. --Leslie Gerber

Customer Reviews:

  • treasured
    I won't go at length about this CD's every refinement, but the Adagio assai on ravel's concerto is easily the best I have ever heard. It is possibly the best collaboration between orchestra/conductor and the pianist of any work. Abbado and Argerich just clicked. It's magic. That does not come along often, even with the masters....more info
  • Miraculous!
    The collaboration between Argerich and Abbado is impressive. Argerich is at her best. A must for your classical collection....more info
  • Breathtaking!
    In my opinion, this is THE Prokofiev 3rd Concerto to have. It is simply wildly breathtaking. Argerich does not use her formidable technique to show off what she has, but rather to benefit the music as a whole. The rhythmic drive is so intense that the orchestra - this is the Berlin Phil we are talking about here - have difficulty in keeping up with her. But nonetheless, they do a super job in accompanying her. She makes the piano sing, playing notes as if she was singing. The sheer energy of this pianist is amazing. In her debut recording for EMI, she was said to have taken several cups of black coffee before entering the studio to record. Perhaps she did the same thing for this recording? Anyway, the way she interacts with the orchestra is most uncanny. Great performers have the ability to listen to others, but Argerich has the ability to almost accompany the orchestra (!) when necessary. The piece sounds as a whole, not as individual movements, in my opinion, which is great: that way it fully keeps the listener's attention. She lets rip in the last movement and the result is unbelievably improvisatory, but she maintains tension and control in the movement, and indeed the whole concerto. I think tension is one of the main keys to playing this concerto well. Otherwise it sounds technical, not musical. The Prokofiev ends spectacularly. Then comes the Ravel concerto in G. It is very jazzy, and Argerich's version has rarely been surpassed. I think that has a lot to do with her improvisatory approach to music. Someone commented that she is a true improvisor, in the tradition of Liszt, but unlike her predecessor, she never tampers with the notes itself. Here, that improvisatory approach really works, and it never for a moment sounded dull or repetetive. Abbado seems in full agreement with Argerich and it is another successful recording. After the wonderful concerti, the Gaspard de la nuit. It is a notoriously difficult piece, but Argerich makes it sound dead easy, as usual. She is said to have learned the piece in less than five days when her one-time teacher Friedrich Gulda, told her to master the piece in five days. She says that it was easy because she didn't know it was supposed to be difficult! Well, that certainly comes across, and she gives a very pictorial account of the work that borders on the frightening. The remastering is first-class. It has clarity and fullness compared with previous remastering, although in the Prokofiev the sound was a little opaque, due to the orchestral detail, which makes the orchestra sound a little compressed. But it is a small matter, as this is a disc that has few equals or competitors, and I doubt it will ever have serious competition with future versions. Stunning....more info
  • A remarkable recording.
    Argerich astonishes me with her musicality, clarity, and technical facility. The rapid runs in the Prokofieff are fun to listen to and her Ravel is both playful and beautiful (especially the second movement). She plays the Gaspard de la Nuit better than I've ever heard it, bringing out the nuances in pieces that consist of continuous notes. The recording itself is wonderful, and is essentially indistinguishable from a digitally mastered one....more info
  • Amazing
    This is definitely a marvelous CD. The Prokofiev is just amazing. It is stunning. Also the Ravel is played beautifuly. This is a sharp and precise and beautiful CD that is just amazing....more info
  • Wonderful!
    This is a must have Ravel piano concerto for everybody! Argerich takes on both concertos with fire, completely dominated the pieces that humbled many others. Abbado's skill in motivating the orchestra is quite phenomenal. The pieces are always energized, exciting, and full of life that is not without sophistication and delicacy. Argerich's Gaspard de la Nuit is simply the best I've ever heard. If you like Argerich, if you like 20th century music, PLEASE listen to this!...more info
  • Its sounds enough like it to be recognized but is so noisy!
    This recording is unpleasantly cacophonic at times. The best performance of this piece I've ever heard was by a player named Steven Mason Prutsman. I was so mesmerized by his playing that I would listen and relisten to the song over and over again. I don't know if he has any recordings. I recorded the music on tape off of a video recording of the 1990 Tschaikovsky competition in Moscow, Russia....more info
  • Kudos, with reservations...
    It seems that Argerich is one of those talents that compiles zealously devoted fans who fawn over everything she does, and in fact that kind of devotion is well-earned from a musician of her stature. Indeed the playing here is of a jaw-dropping intensity and brilliance. The Ravel bounces along at a brisk pace, with a nice sense of urban hustle and bustle that's almost Gershwin-esque, and the slow movement in particular is splendidly articulated. The Gaspard de la Nuit is an ethereal dream, and Argerich somehow conjures some uncannily wispy tones from the piano that belie the percussion of the mechanism, all without muddying up the legato (even the author of the liner notes is perplexed by the technique).

    But...

    I have to admit, I'm not a fan of this performance of the Prokofiev. For me, the piece is highly structured and should be played with a strict sense of rhythmic architecture, but Argerich in her frenzy tends to let the rhythm get away from her at times, and the result is a concerto that, to my ear, doesn't work as an organic whole--especially since the orchestra can't always keep up with her. Still I'm giving this CD five stars, because the other performances are absolutely top-notch....more info