Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sergei Prokofiev; Maurice Ravel - Piano Concertos (Martha Argerich)


Composer: Sergei Prokofiev; Maurice Ravel
  • (01-03) Prokofiev - Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26
  • (04-06) Ravel - Piano Concerto in G major
  • (07-09) Ravel - Gaspard de la nuit

Martha Argerich, piano
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Date: 1967, 1974
Label: Deutsche Grammophon



There have been others to match the bustle and brilliance of Argerich's Prokofiev, her coloristic range, her drive, her flashiness, her straining at the leash. But I'm not sure I could name anyone who has so satisfyingly combined all those qualities, who has given us such a rocket-launched recapitulation in the first movement, such circus-routine vividness in the following variations (Prokofiev grew up in a Russia where 'circusization of the arts' was one of the 'in' concepts), or such monstrous, hyperbolic fairy-tale imagery in the finale, and all done with the most engaging reckless abandon.

The Ravel Concerto is another bundle of energy. I had forgotten how miraculous is the blend and interplay of piano and orchestra, and how ecstatically Argerich weaves around the cor anglais restatement in the slow movement.

Embarras de richesses indeed, now that DG have added Argerich's Gaspard to the original LP coupling. Here is a version of Ravel's devilish triptych which is unusually faithful to his subdued dynamic markings, quite apart from its breathtaking agility. The results ring poetically true at the same time as defying criticism in pianistic terms.

-- Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****


Maurice Ravel (7 March 1875 – 28 December 1937) was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer. Among his works to enter the repertoire are pieces for piano, chamber music, two piano concertos, ballet music, two operas, and eight song cycles. His best known works include Boléro (1928), Gaspard de la nuit (1908), Daphnis et Chloé (1912). Ravel was also an exceptionally skilled orchestrator.


Sergei Prokofiev (23 April, 1891–March 5, 1953) was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor. As the creator of acknowledged masterpieces across numerous musical genres, he was one of the major composers of the 20th century. Prokofiev wrote 7 completed operas, 7 symphonies, 8 ballets, 5 piano concertos, 2 violin concertos, a cello concerto, and 9 completed piano sonatas, many of which are widely known and heard. Prokofiev also enjoyed personal and artistic support from a new generation of Russian performers, notably Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich.


Martha Argerich (born June 5, 1941 in Buenos Aires) is an Argentine pianist generally considered to be one of the greatest of the second half of the 20th century, although her aversion to the press and publicity has resulted in her remaining out of the limelight for most of her career. Argerich gave her debut concert at the age of 8 and made her first commercial recording in 1960. Argerich rose to international prominence when she won the seventh International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1965, at age 24. She is noted for her bravura technique and the raw energy of her interpretations.


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