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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2004
I cannot believe that David White and the so-called "music fan" are listening to the same CD the rest of us are! This recording
is what made a Martha Argerich fan out of me. Her playing throughout this collection is just spell-binding and thoroughly amazing.
Argerich has recorded the Prokofiev 3rd twice already, and a third recording is reported to be ready for release. Each of them are as different from the others as can be. The later one, with Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony, is both more austere and more poetic than this one, but here we have the young Argerich, full of the fire, brio and self-confident daring
and risk-taking which made her reputation. Few other pianists would attempt to take the outer movements of the Prokofiev at the
tempoes Argerich does here (FAST!). To say that she pulls it off
with abandon is an understatement! The slow interior movement is
as thoughtful and beautiful as anything you will find in Prokofiev, with notes falling from suspension like drops of water off icicles in the first thaw after a long winter. The way Martha turns on a dime, from peaceful contemplation to firey
agitation is something to behold. She is so good, it's almost silly!
As for the Ravel pieces, both solo and with orchestra, Argerich's
affinity for Ravel's music and her ability to communicate its
profound, yet subtle, emotional content is unsurpassed. Nobody
plays Ravel's piano music better than Martha Argerich. They can only play it differently.
If you are already an Argerich fan, why isn't this CD in your collection? If you have yet to discover her artistry, this CD
makes an excellent place to start. Welcome to a larger universe!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2003
This CD is an all-around excellent buy. Where shall I start?
This recording of the Prokofiev 3rd is one of my all-time favorites ( and I have heard a lot). Argerich knows where to stretch, where to speed up, just how to pull you along in the most deliciously tantalizing way. She keeps the piece on edge, you can practically see the adrenaline rushing through the orchestra and conductor. How does she strike each note with such purpose, yet sound like she is constantly reinventing, waiting to see what new idea she can spring onto the orchestra?

The Ravel concerto is very good. As a pianist who is learning this piece myself, I think she does an excellent job, though I would have liked to hear some more accenting on those Gershwin-esque riffs. She does capture the hustle-bustle sound of the city, however. The second movement of this piece is where she really shines, letting us glide along with her, looking at a peaceful city skyline. The third movement is pure Argerich.

The Gaspard...wonderful! She throws off some of the most difficult music passages in piano literature like they were mere trinkets. But her ease does not imply shallowness...she allows her deep sonority to explore every edge of Ravel's glorious, frightening, sad, and sometimes wrenching music.
All in all, this is a must have for any pianist, Prokofiev or Ravel fan, or Argerich fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2003
I purchased this CD for the Ravel concerto. I own other performances of Prokofiev, but another interpretation is always welcome. It doesn't really matter, because the performances of both pieces are very good. Ms. Argerich plays deftly and the demands of these pieces, particularly the Prokofiev, do not impede her well-chosen pace. She really knows the Prokofiev and it shows. Additionally, she and Abbado are in sync, and the sound of the piano and orchestra are well balanced. Under Abbado's direction, the Ravel concerto is sprite and lively.
The sonics of these mostly-1967 recordings are excellent. These recordings have depth and extension. The clarity and detail really favor the Ravel concerto.
There are others (Ashkenazy/Previn, Graffman/Szell, Berroff/Masur) who perform the Prokofiev well, but this coupling of Argerich/Abbado is also good. And, for me, it is the only one to include a nice Ravel bonus. Definitely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2003
The Prokoviev 3rd is played in Argerich' usual performance style:
she practically trips over the notes in order to get to the next one. Nuance, emotional interpretation are nearly non-existent (except for those who equate musical interpretation and emoting
as the production of speed on the keyboard). Prokoviev obviously
expected speed where it is called for in this piece, but I hardly
think that he would have enjoyed his music being trampled upon. Even the expert downhill racer appreciates the style of his craft
and wouldnt consider himself a better skier if took the mountain
on a ski jump.
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on December 18, 2001
I seem to be dissing Martha a lot lately. I don't mean to be, but I really think so many people get carried away by how *fast* she can play, as if that's so important. She so often sacrafices expression and color for blinding speed, and yet this gets everyone excited and makes me wonder if most classical listeners are no different than teenagers who are impressed by the loudest, fastest rock bands.
As for the Prokofiev here, just read my Amazon.com review of Argerich's Rachmaninoff 3rd recording on Philips and substitute "Prokofiev" for "Rachmaninoff." The only difference is that the sound here is better. The poster below who says she does not pay enough attention to the work's structural relationships has it right. But to that I'll add that she doesn't seem interested in getting much in the way of color or nuance out of the piano, and I guess it's hard when you play as fast and hard as she does. Still, there are some thrilling moments where just banging in this piece can raise the hairs on the back of your neck, but my favorite performance of the work is still that by the composer (with the London Symphony, recorded in 1932 and available on Pearl). The Ravel performance is one of those mysteries I encounter occasionally that frustrate me. She plays the whole thing "correctly" in every way, yet the sum total is nothing. There's none of the capricious, colorful, "exotic" fun that's so essential to this work. The Adagio assai does not have that sadly beautiful character that, in a truly masterful performance, can make one's eyes tear and one's heart soar. The finale is not the explosion of Oriental fireworks and exuberance, despite being fast and furious. The whole thing is too weighty and serious, like Martha and Claudio and the BSO are playing Beethoven or Brahms rather than Ravel. Compare Michelangeli's legendary recording on EMI, or Bernstein, or the recent Zimerman/Boulez, and you'll hear revelations.
I was about ready to sell this CD to a used shop when Gaspard started. Now if only the rest of the disc were like this! Finely-shaded, music that seems to be asking questions, music that has a personality and isn't just notes played with surgical precision. I may keep this disc after all. If you love Gaspards get this recording, but otherwise there are better readings of the other works available out there. Your call.
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on August 26, 2001
This recording of one of Prokofiev's great masterpieces, his Third Piano Concerto, is superlative. Argerich's tremendous, redoubtable virtuosity is in total service to this seductive, beautiful score. There's no doubt that this is a Prokofiev Third to own and treasure for years to come. You will probably end up listening to this more than you ever imagined. What gorgeous music, and how beautifully realized! A truly inspired performance!
The Ravel is also hauntingly and beautifully played. Ravel is a composer who speaks loudly to Martha. The Gaspard de la Nuit is also a tremendous accomplishment. Michelangeli's recording of the Concerto is marginally more enjoyable to me, but I would want this one just as much. Her touch is totally surreal. She was very involved in this recording, both spiritually and physically.
All in all, this is definitely one of my favorite classical CD's of all time. I can't think of many I've listened to more over the past several years. Highly recommended.
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on April 25, 2001
In my opinion, this is THE Prokofiev 3rd Concerto to have. It is simply wildly breathtaking. Argerich does not use her formidable technique to show off what she has, but rather to benefit the music as a whole. The rhythmic drive is so intense that the orchestra - this is the Berlin Phil we are talking about here - have difficulty in keeping up with her. But nonetheless, they do a super job in accompanying her. She makes the piano sing, playing notes as if she was singing. The sheer energy of this pianist is amazing. In her debut recording for EMI, she was said to have taken several cups of black coffee before entering the studio to record. Perhaps she did the same thing for this recording? Anyway, the way she interacts with the orchestra is most uncanny. Great performers have the ability to listen to others, but Argerich has the ability to almost accompany the orchestra (!) when necessary. The piece sounds as a whole, not as individual movements, in my opinion, which is great: that way it fully keeps the listener's attention. She lets rip in the last movement and the result is unbelievably improvisatory, but she maintains tension and control in the movement, and indeed the whole concerto. I think tension is one of the main keys to playing this concerto well. Otherwise it sounds technical, not musical. The Prokofiev ends spectacularly. Then comes the Ravel concerto in G. It is very jazzy, and Argerich's version has rarely been surpassed. I think that has a lot to do with her improvisatory approach to music. Someone commented that she is a true improvisor, in the tradition of Liszt, but unlike her predecessor, she never tampers with the notes itself. Here, that improvisatory approach really works, and it never for a moment sounded dull or repetetive. Abbado seems in full agreement with Argerich and it is another successful recording. After the wonderful concerti, the Gaspard de la nuit. It is a notoriously difficult piece, but Argerich makes it sound dead easy, as usual. She is said to have learned the piece in less than five days when her one-time teacher, the famous Michelangeli, told her to master the piece in five days. She says that it was easy because she didn't know it was supposed to be difficult! Well, that certainly comes across, and she gives a very pictorial account of the work that borders on the frightening. The remastering is first-class. It has clarity and fullness compared with previous remastering, although in the Prokofiev the sound was a little opaque, due to the orchestral detail, which makes the orchestra sound a little compressed. But it is a small matter, as this is a disc that has few equals or competitors, and I doubt it will ever have serious competition with future versions. Stunning.
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on January 14, 2000
It seems that Argerich is one of those talents that compiles zealously devoted fans who fawn over everything she does, and in fact that kind of devotion is well-earned from a musician of her stature. Indeed the playing here is of a jaw-dropping intensity and brilliance. The Ravel bounces along at a brisk pace, with a nice sense of urban hustle and bustle that's almost Gershwin-esque, and the slow movement in particular is splendidly articulated. The Gaspard de la Nuit is an ethereal dream, and Argerich somehow conjures some uncannily wispy tones from the piano that belie the percussion of the mechanism, all without muddying up the legato (even the author of the liner notes is perplexed by the technique).
But...
I have to admit, I'm not a fan of this performance of the Prokofiev. For me, the piece is highly structured and should be played with a strict sense of rhythmic architecture, but Argerich in her frenzy tends to let the rhythm get away from her at times, and the result is a concerto that, to my ear, doesn't work as an organic whole--especially since the orchestra can't always keep up with her. Still I'm giving this CD five stars, because the other performances are absolutely top-notch.
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on February 4, 1999
This is a must have Ravel piano concerto for everybody! Argerich takes on both concertos with fire, completely dominated the pieces that humbled many others. Abbado's skill in motivating the orchestra is quite phenomenal. The pieces are always energized, exciting, and full of life that is not without sophistication and delicacy. Argerich's Gaspard de la Nuit is simply the best I've ever heard. If you like Argerich, if you like 20th century music, PLEASE listen to this!
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on February 1, 1999
Argerich astonishes me with her musicality, clarity, and technical facility. The rapid runs in the Prokofieff are fun to listen to and her Ravel is both playful and beautiful (especially the second movement). She plays the Gaspard de la Nuit better than I've ever heard it, bringing out the nuances in pieces that consist of continuous notes. The recording itself is wonderful, and is essentially indistinguishable from a digitally mastered one.
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