. . . [Martha Argerich's "Early Recordings" proves] why she has enjoyed such enduring success . . . these recordings show what a mature artist she was even when young, while the virtuosity in the 20th century pieces is mind-blowing.
Dazzling, virtuoso performances all, with Argerich at the beginning of her incredible career . . . collectors will wish to own these early gems.
Martha Argerich fans will be thrilled . . . [she is more than fine] in this repertoire . . . it is two works of Beethoven and Mozart that make this two-CD set worth hearing . . . these takes of Mozart's Sonata No. 18 in D Major, K. 576 and Beethoven's Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Opus 10, No. 3, are rendered in both an edgy intensity and a golden, rounded tone. The Beethoven is especially electric -- the pacing of that excruciatingly tragic climax in the second movement, and the force with which she makes those unexpectedly placed rhythmic jabs in the first. She hears things in these works no one else does, which is the Argerich (now 75) we have come to love.
. . . works that tend to reveal a more intellectual string in her multicolored harp . . . [the first movement of Mozart's 1789 D Major Sonata] enjoys a lusty energy that imparts notable buoyancy to its canonic devices, its "trumpet" fanfares, and penchant for two-part imitation. The intimacy of the occasion lights up the A Major Adagio, which basks in galant serenity. The last movement Allegretto becomes an object lesson in accented triplets, rife with easy virtuosity. The graceful fluency of the performance attests to a potent sense of style that does not devolve into fitful aggression. This Mozart sonata may serve as perhaps the only such document we have of Argerich in this repertory . . . It could be that Argerich was born to play the music of Prokofiev, as the items on Disc 2 indicate.
. . . [these performances reveal] just what a visionary and compelling pianist Argerich has always been.
. . . [the piano playing of Martha Argerich is now,] and always has been, so relentlessly good . . . Her Mozart bubbles with the freshness and effervescence of a Bernini fountain in the midday sun . . . It is impossible to take issue with this calibre of Mozart-playing. Unalloyed pleasure is the only response . . . [the Presto of the Beethoven D major Sonata maintains] a clarity few pianists are able to achieve . . . the anguished Largo e mesto rises to an impassioned climax, all the more moving for its avoidance of any stylistic or pianistic excess . . . the Rondo's ebullient hide-and-seek is irresistible . . . [this is a] near-ideal marriage of fully dimensional emotional content within exquisite classical proportions . . . Argerich's command of Prokofiev is quite unlike anyone else's . . . The ineffable blend of driving power, disarming lyricism and formal balance she brings to the composer exude the sort of authority than can only be the result of conviction. The performance is thrilling from beginning to end . . . [this new music from Argerich is] cause for celebration.
The Mozart Sonata K 576 has a sprightly energy, with subtleties of touch and colour that rise to an almost steely brightness that emphasises a wealth of dynamic contrast . . . [Beethoven's Sonata op. 10 no. 3] reveals further insights into Argerich's fearsome technique and fearless musicianship . . . Prokofiev's music suits Argerich's remarkable musical temperament as a sort of ideal composing partner . . . The single-movement Sonata No 3 Op. 28 is given a stunning performance here . . . This set can certainly be recommended very highly to enthusiasts. It is nicely illustrated with plenty of black and white photos. Fans of Martha Argerich will be delighted to be able to add these historic recordings to their collections . . . Hearing these mono recordings is a fascinating experience . . .
. . . [Argerich's account of the Precipitato from Prokofiev's Piano Sonata no. 7] is just miraculous, while the Toccato manages to sound both cruelly mechanistic and yet joyous. It's the "when" and colouring of each note that makes her Largo e mesto from the Beethoven so uniquely sad, and when the Mozart finale turns from "pretty" to a rainbow of sounds, all with an impeccable neatness, there's profundity too.
. . . [Argerich's early 1960s recordings convey] a wonderful sense of excitement and discovery.
. . . [Argerich gives] an account of the "precipitato" from Prokofiev's most recorded sonata, No 7, which is just miraculous, while the "Toccata" manages to sound both cruelly mechanistic and yet joyous. It's the "when" and colouring of each note that makes her "Largo e mesto" from the Beethoven so uniquely sad, and when the Mozart finale turns from "pretty" to a rainbow of sounds, all with an impeccable neatness, there's profundity too.
True to what one has come to expect from Argerich, her early recordings are superb and clean . . . Of interest are the Mozart sonatas. She plays with ease and comfort, with plenty of color and fine pacing. Argerich captures the cheerfulness and youthfulness of the piece brilliantly. With Beethoven, her drive is incredible, with the range of dynamics so familiar to her playing. The Presto movement has great clarity, especially in the left hand, and what seems to be a miraculous range of sound. The tempo is incredibly fast and light, yet always clear. Prokofieff's "Toccata" is exhilarating.
Argerich is one of the rare pianists who places her genuinely awe-inspiring technical capabilities in service of an equally overwhelming musical passion . . . her technique gives her access to musical possibilities most pianists do not have at their disposal, and what is more, she makes full use of these possibilities . . . Breakneck tempos abound, replete with flawless passagework and sudden shifts in volume, texture, and intensity . . . she has plenty of musical depth in these early recordings . . . The first movement of Beethoven's Sonata in D takes off like a rocket . . . [the second] movement's final minutes are sublime; she makes the bass brood beneath dark sextuplets, and she shades the sextuplets with ominous ebbs and flows. And the final two movements show a lightness of touch and sense of charm and playfulness . . . Much the same can be said about her performance of the Mozart. It is clean, crisp, and elegant. Argerich accelerates whimsically through the passagework that ends the first movement's exposition . . . it is tremendously exciting . . . the second movement is sensitive and subtle, and she treats the accompaniment as musical material in its own right, shading it independently . . . Needless to say, her navigation of "Gaspard de la nuit's" notorious technical demands is tremendously impressive. She actually makes it sound easy -- easy enough that she has the freedom to give tiny surges and swells to "Ondine's" shimmery treble accompaniment . . . She boldly disregards Ravel's pedal indications in "Scarbo", bringing a thrillingly brittle quality to some of its arpeggios and tremolos . . . Moreover, her pacing in the final build is extraordinary; she holds back just enough to create an ongoing and accumulating sense of musical tension, making for a genuinely triumphant culmination. Perhaps most extraordinary, though, is Argerich's performance of "Le gibet" . . . it is one of the richest interpretations of the movement I have heard -- a function of Argerich's exquisite sensitivity to harmonic color . . . [particularly in the third movement,] she shows a stunning range of color, from utter delicacy to overwhelming fury . . . [and in the middle movement, Argerich] also creates a sense of formal elegance with her slightly detached articulation and minimalist shading . . . [Prokofiev's Third Sonata] is well-shaded, clear, and very exciting . . . [Prokofiev 7]: Argerich's performance of the first movement is among the most convincing I have heard . . . Argerich fully understands the movement's structural and musical development, and is brilliantly exciting in her execution. I strongly recommend this disc. It is an important historical document, and it is a joy to listen to.
. . . eine selbstbewusste, selbstbestimmte, im besten Sinne emanzipierte Frau . . . eine junge Künstlerin, die den Steinway technisch nahezu unfehlbar beherrschte, auch aberwitzig schwierige Stücke wie die "Toccata" von Sergei Prokofieff oder den "Scarbo" aus Maurice Ravels "Gaspard de la nuit" mühelos absolvieren konnte, der es aber vor allem auch gegeben schien, große musikalische Zusammenhänge instinktiv zu begreifen und dieses Begreifen interpretatorisch sicher umzusetzen . . . [zahlreiche Live-Mitschnitte existieren,] die uns von der Kunst dieser Interpretin noch anderes erzählen als die Hördokumente, die Martha Argerichs staunenerregende Virtuosität festhalten, wenn sie angstfrei an kräfteraubende "Männerliteratur" wie Sergei Rachmaninows ausuferndes Drittes Klavierkonzert herangeht. Auch solche Opfergaben pianistischer Herkules-Arbeit bewältigt sie geradezu schlafwandlerisch, ohne Mühe, wie es scheint.
Bereits damals war der Personalstil Martha Argerichs ausgereift . . . Argerich zeigt sich den hohen technischen und musikalischen Ansprüchen auf verblüffende Weise mehr als gewachsen.
Ein grandioser Einblick in die vibrierende Spiellust der jungen Virtuosin, die damals gerade mal 19 Jahre alt war.