Argerich, Maisky and the Sinfonia Varsovia play Chopin

'A truly symphonic, developmental drama of unassailable integrity'

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: The Fryderyk Chopin Institute
ALBUM TITLE: Chopin
WORKS: Piano Concerto in E minor, Op. 11; Cello Sonata; Introduction and Polonaise brillante in C, Op. 3
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich (piano), Mischa Maisky (cello); Sinfonia Varsovia/Jacek Kaspszyk
CATALOGUE NO: NIFCCD 038

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The greatest pianists, of whom Martha Argerich is very famously one, are almost by definition great thinkers (in the non-verbal medium of notes). The very greatest of these inspire thought in their listeners. The present release triggered in this one a series of musings on the nature of maturity, musical and otherwise. Here we have a highly serious (even profound) work by a 20-year-old – the E minor Concerto – performed by a septuagenarian who has played and rediscovered it for most of her life. The composers most usually evoked in discussions of Chopin are Mozart and Bach, his two runaway favourites. The presiding deity here, however – his spirit pervades the entire performance – is Beethoven. The breadth and strength of utterance, the depth, power and unshowy brilliance of the pianism, the uncanny blend of rhetoric and intimacy, all combine to reveal a truly symphonic, developmental drama of unassailable integrity. ‘Mature’ are its shunning of the superfluous (a Chopinian virtue in the first place), its three-dimensional textural perspectives (finding depths where lesser artists see only the surface), and its Mozartian/Beethovenian characterisation of entire movements as part of a unified dramatic whole: the scampering, coltish (indeed Utopian) high spirits of the finale serving as an enchanting counter pole to the weighty, big-boned first movement and the youthful, lovelorn musings of the second.

The cello works are very much lighter fare, of course, but Mischa Maisky and Argerich invests them with an intensity and significance quite transcending their saloniste origins.

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Jeremy Siepmann