by Michael Lyons, Music Director
Known as” THE LEGENDARY 1965 RECORDING”, this rare performance sat in limbo for years for contractual reasons. To everyone’s delight it was finally released on CD in 1999, and to this day is still hot to the touch.
Producer Suvi Raj Grubb puts it into pretty clear perspective in the liner notes.
“When Martha Argerich walked into the studio it was her dark, smouldering looks which first struck me. As soon as she arrived she asked for coffee: when I offered a cup she gulped it down in one go and asked for more. I sat her in the studio with a large pot of coffee and went into the control room. At first, her hands moved casually over the keyboard as she tested the piano. Then she launched into Chopin’s Polonaise Op.53. I sat up in my chair with a long drawn out “Jee-sus”—the balance engineer said “Wow”.
This is a unique piece of musical history. Much of the session done in one take including the demanding final movement of the the B- Sonata. Masterful performances full of raw energy from beginning to end define this CD and help dispell the myth that Chopin’s piano music is wistful and serves only as frilly background music. Martha gnaws away at the piano in the scherzo movements like a rabid beast and when the disc comes to the final track you had better belt yourself in because the subtitle “Heroic” becomes very much an understatement as she tackles the Polonaise in Ab+, Op.53. The influence of her firebrand teachers shows up in this early performance—the likes of Friedrich Gulda, Nikita Magaloff and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli—and serves as the perfect forecast of her now legendary sensational career.
(EMI 5 56805 2)