Argerich and Rostropovich—what a partnership! These uncompromising individualists understand each other perfectly and breathe as one.
Argerich and Rostropovich—what a partnership! As soloists both are like survivors from days of the old 'divine right of kings', which is to say uncompromising individualists born into an Urtext-dominated age. Here they understand each other perfectly, and breathe as one. Even if such intensity sometimes challenges criticism in the context of these two concertos, I think the record will always remain something of a collector's piece.
In Chopin's opening orchestral ritornello, Rostropovich reminds us that the first movement is headed maestoso. But as soon as ArgerichRead more enters—and what an arresting entry it is, too—it is this performance that has the stronger drive. Her fingerwork has a sparkling delicacy, yet far more than anyone else she reminds us that the score is full of indications like con forza, stretto, sempre pia stretta, risoluto and so on. The Chopin we meet is no frail young dilettante, but a man of passion. The same is true of the slow movement, especially, of course, its disturbed, declamatory central section. But she is far from placid even in the idyllic cantilena of the opening and closing sections—listen, for instance, to her response to Chopin's con fuoco marking in the third bar after the reprise. The finale from Argerich is a delight, all grace and sparkle and charm but with an unflagging sense of direction. I also like the way she does not allow a very brilliant right hand to steal all the limelight when there are important thematic strands in the left (in the slow movement, incidentally, her left hand and the orchestra are in uncommonly close accord). Predictably Rostropovich never allows his instrumentalists to become mere accompanists at any point in the work.
-- Gramophone [11/1978, reviewing the LP release DG 2531 042]