WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58; 3 Mazurkas, Op. 59; Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23; Etude in C sharp minor, Op. 10 No. 4; Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 41 No. 4; in E minor, Op. 41 No. 1 etc
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DG 4777557
In time for the record industry’s Chopin bicentenary splurge, these performances from 1959 and 1967 have been ‘newly discovered’ in the archives of former West German radio stations in Berlin and Cologne. Whatever the story there, they are hugely welcome, capturing Martha Argerich in her early prime.
Indeed, the disc opens with a very early recording, the Ballade No. 1 in G minor, captured just four years after the young girl’s arrival in Europe from Buenos Aires and six years before she won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. She was only 18 at the time, yet this belongs with other great interpretations for its mixture of poetry and virtuosity.
At once shy and passionate, the performance is atmospheric in clean mono sound, and this work (along with four of the Mazurkas and the Etude in C sharp minor) is new to the Argerich discography.
Other pieces – the F major Nocturne, B minor Sonata, and the Op. 59 Mazurkas – overlap with the programme on EMI’s The Legendary 1965 Recordings, and on the whole they sound gentler here. The sonata is certainly less volcanic, but still a towering performance. Essential listening for anyone interested in Argerich, Chopin or indeed the art of the piano. John Allison