Most of these recordings were made in 1960, when the pianist Martha Argerich was just 18; there is a fearsomely proficient Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, Op. 83, from seven years later, after Argerich had won the Chopin Piano Competition and was on her way to stardom. The recordings are taken from radio broadcasts that are quite good sonically by 1960 standards, and they give abundant evidence of why those in the know spotted the young Argentine and began to give her bigger opportunities.
The performances heard on this recording by the superstar duo of violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Martha Argerich do not exactly form a discrete group: the first work, Schumann's Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105, was recorded live in 1998, while the rest consists of 2016 studio recordings. The 1998 performance, however, was part of a concert in Saratoga Springs, New York, that provided the stimulus for the joint recording. The Schumann sonata performance was not released at that time, and the rest of the program expands on the music it presents. It's nice to have the Schumann, which has a good deal of tension and energy. As for the rest, it's hard to point to a clear decline in the skills of either of the septuagenarian performers.
The connections between Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim run deeper than the fact that they are both Argentines; Argerich studied with Vincenzo Scaramuzza, who also taught Barenboim's father, and the pianists both have Russian-Jewish-Argentine ancestry. They have the kind of instinctive understanding, coming from shared experiences, that makes for successful duo piano work, and that sets this live recording apart from the majority of superstar pairings.
Pianists Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire are stupendous virtuosos, and there's nothing in this recording of their 2009 Salzburg recital of staggeringly difficult works they cannot play. They know each other so well as old duo piano partners that their playing is stunning in its unity, but their distinctive individuality also comes across. What's most impressive about this recital is how completely Argerich and Freire have made this music their own. Brahms' Haydn Variations sound freer and fresher, more playful, and more profound than ever. Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances are thrillingly rhapsodic, rapturous, and dramatic. Schubert's Grand Rondeau is more lyrical, intimate, and graceful than usual, and Ravel's La Valse more ecstatic and apocalyptically over-the-top frightening than in any comparable recordings, including Argerich's own earlier releases. Captured in wonderfully clear yet wholly present digital sound, the performances on this disc will be compulsory listening for anyone who loves music, any music.
“Unquestionably one of the greatest pianists of all time” is how Gramophone magazine has described Martha Argerich. Her relationship with Warner Classics goes back to 1965 and her victory at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Over several decades it has produced a rich catalogue of live and studio recordings, embracing a repertoire that spans three centuries, a diversity of genres, and collaborations with such figures as Renaud Capuçon, Charles Dutoit, Nelson Freire, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gidon Kremer, Mischa Maisky and Itzhak Perlman.