Martha Argerich plays Beethoven & Mozart
LABELS: BR Klassik
WORKS: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15; Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 18 in B, K456
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich (piano); The Bavarian Radio SO/Seiji Ozawa, Eugen Jochum
CATALOGUE NO: 403571900701
These two performances, given exactly a decade apart, find Martha Argerich in resplendent form, and the elegance and limpidness of her Mozart (from a concert recorded way back in 1973) are a constant joy.
Alas, the orchestral contribution is by no means on the same level. Eugen Jochum is disappointingly prosaic, and the playing itself is decidedly run-of-the-mill, with such moments as the angry outburst at the centre of the otherwise gently pathetic variation slow movement, or its closing bars where the music dissolves in a typically Mozartian haze of plangent nostalgia, making little effect.
It’s a pity, too, that the second bassoonist misses an entry shortly after the start of the second variation. The player couldn’t have chosen a worse moment to make a non-appearance: the passage is for winds alone, and the second bassoon provides the essential bass-line.
The orchestra is in much better shape in the Beethoven. Argerich’s playing is again full of spirit, generating an atmosphere of mystery in the opening movement’s central development section, and an infectious lilt in the finale’s ‘tin-pan alley’ minor-mode episode.
In the days when this performance was given, Beethoven’s imposing first-movement cadenza was much less fashionable than it is now, and Argerich uses the composer’s shorter alternative. Misha Donat