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PERFORMING ARTS | Recordings

*** 1/2, "LIVE FROM THE CONCERTGEBOUW, 1978 AND 1979", Martha Argerich, piano, EMI Classics

*** MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25, BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1, Martha Argerich, piano, EMI Classics

May 21, 2000|RICHARD S. GINELL

Here comes another batch of live Argerich tapes--this time from Amsterdam's resonant Concertgebouw--to feed her fans' insatiable appetite for every note she ever struck.

The solo disc, taken from a pair of recitals, is a must-hear, because it often captures Argerich at her fire-eating peak.

Bach's Partita No. 2 surges with drama while cleanly delineating each contrapuntal line. Its Sarabande is marvelously limpid, its Rondeau and Capriccio have exceptional staccato clarity and wit. She also offers a brief, brittle taste of Scarlatti. Chopin's Nocturne No. 13 and Scherzo No. 3 are erratic in rhythm, clangorous in tone, but Argerich applies the scorched-earth treatment brilliantly in the 20th century material with a savage yet character-laden rendering of Bartok's Sonata, her countryman Ginastera's driving "Danzas Argentinas," and a slam-bang Prokofiev Sonata No. 7.

On the concerto disc, with the Nederlands Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Argerich's 1978 Mozart is hammered out with a wide color spectrum--which is sure to arouse the ire of those who like their Mozart precious, dainty or authentic--while the 1992 Beethoven doesn't go as far out on a limb. In both pieces, I find the results refreshing rather than pulverizing.

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