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Martha Argerich: The Collection 1

Musical Criticism – London,UK

High words of praise for a remastered and reissued series of Martha Argerich’s original sides for DG – presented in chronological order, dating back to her 1961 debut recording.   The early Argerich is heavily Chopin-centric, to telling effect….

In Argerich’s debut recording…we have what amounts to a manifesto of her astonishing brand of piano playing. A scintillating version of Chopin’s Third Scherzo – have its defining double octaves ever sounded so effortless at such an exacting pace? – is followed by Argerich’s big-boned and passionate Brahms (the two Rhapsodies Op.79). There’s more Chopin in the Barcarolle Op.60, which, along with Ravel’s Jeux d’eau, shows her ability to coax an array of colours from the piano. A furious Prokoviev Toccata and a Liszt finale – the Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody – give a further demonstration of a technique of such thoroughbred robustness that no music seems to hold any fears for it. Restored here is also the original LP cover – it was replaced in 1967 by the better known black and white photo used for the Originals reissue as well as the cover of this box – which helps to remind us just quite how prodigious the young Argerich was (she was only nineteen at the time of the recording).

Although all the recordings here are all well known it’s fascinating to have this opportunity to relive the releases one by one, placing them in the context of Argerich’s far from conventional career. It was not until six years after her debut that her next solo recording – an all Chopin affair – was released. EMI recorded a recital with Argerich in 1965, the year of her triumph at the Warsaw Chopin Competition, but legal reasons prevented this from being released until relatively recently (1999). Common ground between the EMI recording and the next disc in this set, recorded for DG in 1967, comes in the significant form of the Third Sonata, the ‘Heroic’ Polonaise Op.53 and three Mazurkas Op.59. For DG Argerich also included the Polonaise-Fantasie Op.61. Here some of the excessive forcefulness that some have criticised in Argerich’s playing is apparent, most noticeably in the sonata’s opening movement. Jed Distler, who provides brief introductions to all the recordings, writes ‘how Chopin would have reacted to Argerich taking the B minor Sonata first movement’s Allegro maestoso as a veritable Allegro con fuoco is anyone’s guess’ and the effect is an inevitable reduction in the movement’s great lyricism. But by the time we get to the blistering account of the finale, it’s difficult not to have been won over by the sheer force of Argerich’s interpretation.

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Pianist Wang enjoys unpredictable schedule

Schenectady Gazette – Schenectady,NY,USA

When your star pianist (including Martha Argerich!) cancels, who ya gonna call? 21-year old Joyce Yang, it turns out.  And she owes it all to Chopin…

Wang’s maturity as a performer is as much a surprise to her as it is to the many audiences and critics she impresses, she said. Until she was 10, she’d never heard a recording of classical music. Her first CD was of Maurizio Pollini playing Chopin Etudes.

“I had no music in my head. I had no imagination until I came here,” she said.

People at home in China called her a prodigy, but her teachers were always very critical and made sure she had a good technical foundation. That impressed Gary Graffman, who, in 2002, took her on as one of his students at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.

She graduated this June, which was almost a non-event for her, she said. In the past two years she has barely been at the school because she’s been out giving up to 100 concerts a year. Now, she has to decide where she wants to live or if she wants to live in North America, she said.

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