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Although there exists a plethora of live recordings of Chopin’s First Concerto by Argerich, it is probably the deservedly revered studio recording with LSO/Abbado that most collectors treasure. Here is a worthy complement.

There is great detail in the recording of the orchestra; Kaspszyk finds levels of sophistication in Chopin’s scoring denied to many, and is certainly less relentless than Abbado in the opening tutti. Argerich asserts her strength at her entry, but also lends the music a patrician sense of space. She projects music that is languid, peaceful yet sophisticated – in many ways a polar opposite to Pollini/Kletzki (EMI). Inner voices are perfectly balanced and highlighted; and despite Argerich’s long history with this piece, there is palpable freshness. While the gossamer strings at the opening of the Romanze are impressive, it is Argerich’s golden, liquid tone that is truly magical.

Mischa Maisky is a regular chamber music partner, and the rapport between him and Argerich is evident throughout the two pieces presented here. They have recorded the Sonata together before, for DG. Maisky’s sound is positively radiant, and the long first movement unfolds with great power and passion (no surprise that Maisky studied with Rostropovich). The two seem hewn from the same cloth in the Largo, memorable for Maisky’s melting legato, while both fully relish the quirky Finale.

For the Introduction and Polonaise, Argerich despatches the difficult piano part with aplomb; the piece is fascinating from first to last and deserves more frequent airing. Superbly recorded throughout.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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