MARTHA ARGERICH LIVE FROM THE
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56)
Fantasiestücke, Op. 12.
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Sonatine. Gaspard de la
EMI CDC5 57101-2
This is the third of a series of live performances given in the Concertgebouw,
Amsterdam by Martha Argerich (there is also a live recital on
56975-2 and a concerto disc on
56974-2). The concerts date from 1978 and 1979 and offer the record collector
the opportunity to compare and contrast Argerich the recitalist at that time
with Argerich the accompanist now (DG are in the process of issuing a Schumann
disc with the cellist Mischa Maisky on
It is as important to forget the relatively low playing time of the present
disc as it is to forget the occasional splatter of wrong notes. Freed from
the studio, Argerich gives her imagination absolutely full rein. Her strong
affinity with Schumann is evident throughout her account of the
Fantasiestücke, in which she demonstrates a near miraculous ability
to capture the essence of each of the individual movements. What's more,
Schumann's unpredictable mood shifts and extreme sense of fantasy seem to
strike a chord with Argerich's own persona: the sections of 'Fabel', for
example, are unapologetically contrasted. Schumann's ornamentation comes
across as if improvised. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this performance
is the last movement, in which Argerich paces Schumann's cumulative, obsessive
repetitions to perfection.
Argerich seems to elevate the stature of Ravel's diminutive Sonatine.
She accords the second movement, 'Mouvement de menuet', an egg-shell delicacy:
in fact throughout her lightened tone is entirely appropriate. But it is
Gaspard that finds her at her most inspired. Perhaps what is most
awe-inspiring about this is that no matter how tough the going gets pianistically
(and it gets pretty tough), the texture is never over-burdened so that the
level of detail that comes across is nothing short of revelatory. Argerich's
tonal variety is one of her strongest points, and nowhere is this better
demonstrated than in 'Le gibet', that enormous test of keyboard control.
Despite some obtrusive audience noise at the beginning of 'Scarbo', Argerich
ensures that this is a jaw-dropping experience, right from the gestural sweep
of the earlier passages. A salutary reminder of just what Argerich was capable
of in her then-chosen guise as keyboard giant.