RAVEL, PROKOFIEV Piano Concertos / Argerich 4474382

This performance . . . is a bargain in the true sense, in that its quality is far outweighed by the prize-tag. The Third Concerto is a work that Argerich has made her own, and this recording . . . is sizzling account of one of Prokofiev's most show-stopping scores . . . with Argerich in the Third there is that special ingredient of daredevil wizardry, a sense of living for the moment and on the brink . . . There is a perfect meeting of minds here, whether in the lyric's quirky lyricism or in its high-octane drive, and the whole performance simply grips you by the throat.

I was a big fan and her performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 was one of the first discs I owned. I was fascinated by the magical effects she created. She's almost like a huge orchestra by herself at times.

Argerich at her most charismatically brilliant.

. . . Prokofiev's Concerto springs from the Russian tradition, and its fairytale-like narrative . . . is full of fantasy . . . the young Martha Argerich captures these qualities with an astonishing sense of freedom and a mercurial touch that keeps Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic on their toes from start to finish. Argerich has the technique: motoring rhythms are devilishly sprung, counterpoint crystal clear . . . She injects tremendous drive and momentum when it's called for, yet no emotional stoned is left unturned: percussive outbursts are dispatched with force like the cracks of a circus whip, and the clown-like humour of the second movement gives way to deep introspection. The orchestra, too, captures both the robust and ethereal qualities of Prokofiev's writing, while keeping apace with Argerich's breakneck speeds . . . [this recording] displays her at her most irresistible.

[The recording is] exactly the way she is. Enormous potential, very subtle, never showing off -- although she shows more of the music than anybody else. There is such quickness -- not of the tempi but of the sensations of the piece, the musical thoughts. Others play it fast but with no time to say many things. With her, it's the opposite: she plays faster and she says much more.

. . . [Abbado's collaborations with Argerich] were always special, and this early recording of two of Argerich's specialities captures their chemistry perfectly.

Argerich at her most charismatically brilliant. Here is concerto playing of miraculous lyricism and whiplashing rhythmic panache, with a rapport between soloist and conductor that's consistently high-tensioned.

. . . Claudio Abbado a tout naturellement imposé son talent avec gentillesse et modestie pour devenir un des grands chefs de notre époque qui n'en compte pas beaucoup . . . Son art musical est d'abord basé sur le respect du texte musical, sa sensibilité à fleur de peau ne tombant jamais dans le pathos ou l'effet . . . Ennemi de tout despotisme, Claudio Abbado a l'art d'entraîner ses musiciens et de les inspirer en leur laissant exprimer leur proper musicalité.

Gravure mythique ! Il faut entendre avec quels coups de pattes la Argerich griffe les variations du deuxième mouvement, la variété des attaques, les couleurs contrastées, et irisées en même temps qu'elle y déploie, la vivacité féline de ses rythmes. Avec un Philharmonique de Berlin mis en lumière par la baguette impérieuse d'Abbado, on tient là une lecture indémodable . . .