Chopin: Piano Sonata in B minor, Op. 58; Scherzo, Op. 39; Mazurkas, Op. 59/1, 2, 3

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Piano Sonata in B minor, Op. 58; Scherzo, Op. 39; Mazurkas, Op. 59/1, 2, 3
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56805 2
One of the most dazzling and profoundly musical talents of recent decades is the Argentinian-born pianist Martha Argerich. Intensely self-critical, she broke off her career in the early Sixties, resumed it again after winning the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 1965, only to disappear from view once more – at least for solo recitals – partly through serious ill health. Now she has stormed back with a succession of recordings, including Chopin concertos with Dutoit (see Orchestral), and EMI has also issued, for the first time, this stunning disc of the recital Argerich gave just after her 1965 Warsaw triumph.

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Most of the works included here were subsequently re-recorded in Munich in 1967, and all except the Nocturne were reissued by DG in 1997. But although the piano tone of the EMI disc is not completely satisfactory, producer Suvi Raj Grubb’s recording has a richness and depth of tone, especially in the bass, lacking on DG. He has also caught Argerich on the wing in unforgettable accounts of the B minor Sonata and A flat Polonaise, Op. 53, that surpass the Munich achievement. In both, Argerich’s inspiration is white-hot, her rubato breath-catchingly spontaneous, her engagement intense to an almost alarming degree. The curtain-raising eight bars of the Sonata’s finale, for example, would wake the dead, while the cascading runs later on, with their scintillating jewel-like precision, are a constant source of wonder.