Thursday, 7 June 2018

CD Review (The Straits Times, June 2018)

Deutsche Grammophon 479 5978 (2CDs) 

The great Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, now in her 78th year, no longer performs solo recitals. So music lovers have to turn to her early solo recordings, which remain treasured documents. Released in 2016, this Deutsche Grammophon album presents German radio recordings from 1960 and 1967 now issued for the first time on compact disc.

New to her discography are Mozart's late Sonata in D major (K.576) and Beethoven's early Sonata in D major (Op.10 No.3), on the first disc, exciting yet sensitive performances which show an innate affinity with the classical idiom. Although she is more associated with Romantic repertoire, her early training with maverick Austrian pianist Friedrich Gulda is telling here.

The second disc covers more familiar territory, but not previously heard is Prokofiev's single-movement Sonata No.3. Argerich the teenager rips into it like a whirlwind, and this rapid fire is also heard in the precipitous finale of Sonata No.7 and the notorious Toccata

In Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit, she shaves off almost four minutes from her later studio version. This electrifying reading must be heard, tempered by the beautifully proportioned Sonatine. Her unabashed mastery of extremes is what made her piano's living legend.

Martha Argerich performs at the 25th Singapore International Piano Festival on 11 & 13 June 2017 at Esplanade Concert Hall. Tickets available at SISTIC.

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