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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov/Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 3
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich (piano)Berlin RSO/Riccardo Chailly, Bavarian RSO/Kirill Kondrashin
Martha Argerich is nothing if not an artist of insight and originality, but her electrifying presence in the concert hall does not always transfer well on to disc. The two current concert performances, dating from the early Eighties, evidently had their audiences cheering and applauding, but, listening back, you wonder why. The newly released Rachmaninov (uncut, with the shorter of the composer’s two cadenzas) certainly has its moments of imperious impetuosity, glory and poetry, but is otherwise a generally ragged, indifferent account, shot through with some wilful eccentricities and an unacceptable standard of orchestral contribution and ensemble (in the Scherzo episode of the slow movement and the finale). I remember having admired the Tchaikovsky in its original LP format. Coming back to it again, it seems much less exciting, in another league from Argerich’s earlier studio version with Dutoit (DG). The waywardness of some of her decisions (for example the suddenly speeded-up double-octave passage at bar 348 of the first movement) isn’t at all easy to accept. If you want a truly hot-blooded ‘live’ Tchaikovsky No. 1, try wartime Horowitz, partnered by Toscanini in ways Kondrashin could not even begin to dream about. Ates Orga