Sunday, June 28, 2015

Martha Argerich - Live from the Concertgebouw [II]

From the first note of ‘Des abends’ we are floating, thanks partly to Argerich’s finely graded singing tone and partly to her taking the score’s extraordinary pedal markings at something close to their face value. Once airborne, it seems all the worlds of Schumann’s fantastical imagination are open to us. ‘Aufschwung’ is the epitome of ardour – a note of desperation never far beneath the surface. ‘In der Nacht’ skirts even closer to the borders of insanity, its post-Appassionata swirlings founded on staggeringly articulate fingerwork. Yet there is still room for an extra touch of dazzlement in the dartings of ‘Traumes-Wirren’. Part of me wishes that ‘Ende vom Lied’ might have relaxed a little more and offered a measure of consolation rather than more of the same kind of intensity ; but the Coda is perfection.
The element of Latin American caprice in Argerich’s Ravel Sonatine may not be everyone’s idea of appropriate style ; what it does, though, is take us close to the heart, if not of Ravel, then of the art of musical recreation itself. Everything here seems dictated by the feeling of the moment ; yet the sheer beauty of sound, with textures once again bathed in fabulously imaginative pedalling, is no less overpowering. At the opening of the finale, Argerich’s enthusiasm momentarily gets the better of her fingerwork, and around 0'50'' to 0'55'' her memory falters for an instant, an extra beat being added to put things back on course (in the parallel passage from 2'37'' almost the opposite happens, and two beats are lost).
All this sits oddly with Bryce Morrison’s perfectly reasonable description of the Sonatine in his essay as ‘classically based, the epitome of distilled grace and Gallic understatement’. Yet he surely hits the nail on the head when he describes these performances as complementary to Argerich’s studio accounts. For one thing her Gaspard is an astonishing four minutes faster than her by no means sedate DG recording from three years earlier (18'09''as against 22'21''). In expression it is polarised towards demonic flair and abandon, in a way scarcely imaginable under studio conditions. ‘Ondine’ flickers ravishingly and improvisatorily, but the later stages feel more like white-water rafting than the contemplation of a seductive water-nymph, and the big climax at 3'18'' won’t stand close scrutiny. On the other hand ‘Le gibet’ is as effective in its restraint as in its hallucinatory colourings — the passage from 2'23'' is truly ‘pp sans expression’. Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of horripilating malevolence in ‘Scarbo’ ; the final stages have to be heard to be believed.
The sound picture may not be to all tastes, combining as it does a close-up image with a generous amount of ambience. This gives us simultaneously the clamorous impact of a super-pianist projecting to the back of a big hall and the atmosphere of a spellbound auditorium. I can’t say I would willingly be without either, and all told, this is a tremendous sequel to EMI’s previous Argerich Concertgebouw compilation (4/00) that came in as runner-up for the Instrumental category in the 2000 Gramophone Awards.'
David Fanning

Source : http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/argerich-live-from-the-concertgebouw-ii

Martha Argerich
Live from the
Concertgebouw
[II]

Tracks

Robert Schumann
(1810-1856)

Fantasiestücke, Op. 12
1 Des Abends  3:31
2 Aufschwung  2:44
3 Warum ?  2:05
4 Grillen  2:46
5 In der Nacht  3:21
6 Fabel  2:23
7 Traumes Wirren  2:01
8 Ende vom Lied  4:53

Maurice Ravel
(1872-1937)

Sonatine
9 Modéré  3:28
10 Mouvement de menuet  2:39
11 Animé  3:12

Gaspard de la nuit
Trois Poèmes pour piano
d'après Aloysius Bertrand
12 Ondine  5:16
13 Le Gibet  4:53
14 Scarbo  8:00

*

Martha Argerich - p

Recorded at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam ; May 7, 1978 ; April 22, 1979 [# 9-11]

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