Martha Argerich has few peers in this repertoire today, and in terms of sheer spontaneity in performance she's simply in a class of her own. Chopin's concertos are early works, and they always have taken their share of abuse owing to the composer's somewhat clunky orchestration. Of course, no one ever has had anything to say against the piano part, which is marvelous and which dominates the proceedings to the point where the orchestra is pretty irrelevant anyway. What makes these performances so special is that Dutoit not only stays in the background, where he belongs, but actually manages to offer the kind of intimate support that allows Argerich to literally do whatever she wants. (David Hurwitz, classicstoday.com)
The duo of cellist Mischa Maisky and pianist Martha Argerich is known for the virtuoso flair they bring to their performances. This album was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. The ensemble succeeds at matching each other in every way, lending a unified and organic feeling that make it hard to believe at times that this is a *live* recording. The acoustic quality is also outstanding, although you may wish it were not so good when Maisky's loud breathing and foot-tapping get out of hand (particularly in the Debussy).
In our era, when large record companies parade good-looking mediocrities before us as major artists, it is good to be reminded of the real thing. Martha Argerich, as this CD demonstrates, had everything: the looks, the temperament, and the technique. By her mid 20s, she already was a phenomenal artist.
Berezovsky is a sadly under-rated player, even though he won the Tchakovsky Competition in 1990. His natural talent is given full vent in these Etudes. One must remember that these were studies written by Chopin, each one exploring a singular technical idea - the 'Revolutionary' a test of left-hand power and flexibility, Op.10 No.1 a study in right-hand stretches, etc. Thus in each piece, Berezovsky utilises a different aspect of his phenomenal technique and gives a demonstration of how they should be played. In the CD booklet, one critic accurately observes that Berezovsky 'knows there is plenty of time ahead of him'; and rightly so! In a musical world today where everyone thinks they need to flex their muscle in order to gain attention, Berezovsky carries on at his own pace, regardless. There is no need to play everything at breakneck speed as does Argerich where the tendency is to sink into a show of bad taste and pointless pyrotechnics.
Throughout her lengthy artistic career, pianist Martha Argerich has experienced many heights and depths: moments of "crisis" in which she hasn't always seemed prepared to offer the full extent of her artistic insights, but also many, many times when she has managed simultaneously to come into her own and to completely lose herself in music-making. Fortunately it's the latter snapshot of Argerich's career that this CD captures, drawing from two live recitals Argerich gave at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in 1978 and 1979.
Chopin's two piano concertos have long been admired more as pianistic vehicles than as integrated works for piano and orchestra. But in his revelatory new recording, Krystian Zimerman suggests otherwise: The opening orchestral tuttis have so much more light, shade, orchestral color, and detail, you wonder if they've been rewritten. Every gesture, every instrumental solo is so specifically characterized that by the time the piano makes a dramatic entrance, the pieces have become operas without words.