There are at least four recordings of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto featuring the volcanic Martha Argerich, but this live performance from 1994 is the best of a singularly great bunch. In the first place, it features a clearly energized Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic matching the soloist step for step. Abbado and Berlin at this time could be the apotheosis of ennui, but not on this occasion, and Argerich’s spontaneity seemed to balance Abbado’s care for precision and detail in a particularly happy way. The two had real chemistry.
Second, this performance has all of the excitement of Argerich’s famous live Philips recording under Kondrashin, but with none of the finger slips and moments of approximate ensemble.Read more The excitement lies at least partly in the fact that the performance threatens to spin completely out of control, but never quite does–check out the cadenza just before the coda of the finale to hear what I mean. The results will keep you on the edge of your seat. Beyond the fireworks, there are also countless moments of true delicacy and subtle color: the first movement’s second subject, for instance, or the beautifully sung second movement, a true “Andantino semplice.” It just doesn’t get any better.
The coupling, a two-piano arrangement of the Nutcracker Suite with Nicolas Economou, is played with similar abandon, the two soloists well-matched and clearly enjoying themselves. The arrangement is Economou’s, and it’s a very good one: idiomatic, colorful, and fun, even if it’s impossible not to miss the variety of Tchaikovsky’s enchanting original orchestration. The sonics in the concerto are really good for a live production: perhaps a bit bright and brash, but then, that only compliments the brilliance and edge of the playing. A classic.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Performer:
Martha Argerich (Piano)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: Russia Date of Recording: 12/1994 Venue: Live Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany Notes: Composition written: Russia (1874 - 1875).
Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71aby Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Performer:
Nicolas Economou (Piano),
Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1892; Russia Date of Recording: 1983 Notes: Transcribed: Nicolas Economou
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the bestDecember 28, 2012By runyon woods (Chapel Hill, NC)See All My Reviews"I've been listening to the 1958 van Clibern/Kondrashin/RCA tchaikovsky's piano concerto #1 for the last 50 years with the sort of satisfaction that an old friendship brings. We all remember the classical pieces that we first loved and as a teenager this was an important recording for me. His winning of the Tchaikovsky festival in Moscow was a good moment for humanists in the middle of the cold war. In the 60's, my friend Menotti told me to get the wonderful 1943 Horowitz/Toscanini/NBC recording which has given me great pleasure over the years. A recording of two great masters, it is as subtle as Tchaikovsky can ever be. But now I have heard Martha Argerich/ Abbado/Berlin and my sense of this great piano concerto will never be the same. I am completely swept off my feet. THis is the greatest recording of this piece ever! The pacing, the pounding, the grand echoing washes of sound so purely played. It is as if the composers piece is finally fully realized. I feel that I now know what Tchaikovsky intended us to hear."Report Abuse