No one could accuse Martha Argerich of unstructured reverie or dalliance and her legendary DG performance [of the Liszt Sonata] from 1972, at long last reissued, suggests an entirely different level of both technical and musical achievement. Her prodigious fluency unites with a trail-blazing temperament, and Valhalla itself never ignited to such effect as at the central Andante's central climax. Both here and in the final Prestissimo there are reminders that Argerich has always played octaves like single notes, displaying a technique that few if any could equal. As I said when first commenting on this disc in my history of the Sonata, "there are times when she becomes virtually engulfed in her own virtuosity" yet "this is aRead more performance to make other pianists turn pale and ask, how is it possible to play like this?"
Argerich's Schumann, too, is among her most meteoric, headlong flights. In terms of sheer brilliance she leaves all others standing yet, amazingly, still allows us fleeting glimpses of Eusebius (the poetic dreamer in Schumann, and one of his most dearly cherished fictions). The Brahms and Liszt Rhapsodies, taken from Argerich's very first 1963 DG disc, are among the most incandescent yet refined on record, a dazzling and sad reminder of both her past glory and her present enigmatic silence in the solo and concerto repertoire. The sound, when you bother to notice it, is excellent, though in warmth and detail it hardly rivals Collins Classics' which is of demonstration quality throughout.
-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone [2/1993]
...Pianistically, Argerich can do anything she wants. She tosses off those treacherous octaves in the...Liszt Sonata easier than most people play single notes. She cuts through Schumann's thick, difficult-to-clarify textural minefields as lye penetrates grease... True, the pianist sometimes gets impatient in music that demands inner repose and focused introspection... She's a darer, not a planner. And thank God for that! The playing overflows with personality and a liquid, red-blooded sonority that can hardly be mistaken for any other pianist.
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com reviewing the Liszt and Schumann sonatas reissued as Philips 456703 Read less